There is currently a large interest in understanding the potential advantages quantum devices can offer for probabilistic modelling. In this work we investigate, within two different oracle models, the probably approximately correct (PAC) learnability of quantum circuit Born machines, i.e., the output distributions of local quantum circuits. We first show a negative result, namely, that the output distributions of super-logarithmic depth Clifford circuits are not sample-efficiently learnable in the statistical query model, i.e., when given query access to empirical expectation values of bounded functions over the sample space. This immediately implies the hardness, for both quantum and classical algorithms, of learning from statistical queries the output distributions of local quantum circuits using any gate set which includes the Clifford group. As many practical generative modelling algorithms use statistical queries -- including those for training quantum circuit Born machines -- our result is broadly applicable and strongly limits the possibility of a meaningful quantum advantage for learning the output distributions of local quantum circuits. As a positive result, we show that in a more powerful oracle model, namely when directly given access to samples, the output distributions of local Clifford circuits are computationally efficiently PAC learnable by a classical learner. Our results are equally applicable to the problems of learning an algorithm for generating samples from the target distribution (generative modelling) and learning an algorithm for evaluating its probabilities (density modelling). They provide the first rigorous insights into the learnability of output distributions of local quantum circuits from the probabilistic modelling perspective.

1 aHinsche, Marcel1 aIoannou, Marios1 aNietner, Alexander1 aHaferkamp, Jonas1 aQuek, Yihui1 aHangleiter, Dominik1 aSeifert, Jean-Pierre1 aEisert, Jens1 aSweke, Ryan uhttps://arxiv.org/abs/2110.05517