npj Quantum Information

Analyzing the performance of variational quantum factoring on a superconducting quantum processor

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In the near-term, hybrid quantum-classical algorithms hold great potential for outperforming classical approaches. Understanding how these two computing paradigms work in tandem is critical for identifying areas where such hybrid algorithms could provide a quantum advantage. In this work, we study a QAOA-based quantum optimization approach by implementing the Variational Quantum Factoring (VQF) algorithm. We execute experimental demonstrations using a superconducting quantum processor, and investigate the trade off between quantum resources (number of qubits and circuit depth) and the probability that a given biprime is successfully factored. In our experiments, the integers 1099551473989, 3127, and 6557 are factored with 3, 4, and 5 qubits, respectively, using a QAOA ansatz with up to 8 layers and we are able to identify the optimal number of circuit layers for a given instance to maximize success probability. Furthermore, we demonstrate the impact of different noise sources on the performance of QAOA, and reveal the coherent error caused by the residual ZZ-coupling between qubits as a dominant source of error in a near-term superconducting quantum processor.


28 Oct 2021


npj Quantum Information