Approximate Solutions of Combinatorial Problems via Quantum Relaxations

Download paper


Combinatorial problems are formulated to find optimal designs within a fixed set of constraints. They are commonly found across diverse engineering and scientific domains. Understanding how to best use quantum computers for combinatorial optimization is to date an open problem. Here we propose new methods for producing approximate solutions for the maximum cut problem and its weighted version, which are based on relaxations to local quantum Hamiltonians. These relaxations are defined through commutative maps, which in turn are constructed borrowing ideas from quantum random access codes. We establish relations between the spectra of the relaxed Hamiltonians and optimal cuts of the original problems, via two quantum rounding protocols. The first one is based on projections to random magic states. It produces average cuts that approximate the optimal one by a factor of least 0.555 or 0.625, depending on the relaxation chosen, if given access to a quantum state with energy between the optimal classical cut and the maximal relaxed energy. The second rounding protocol is deterministic and it is based on estimation of Pauli observables. The proposed quantum relaxations inherit memory compression from quantum random access codes, which allowed us to test the performances of the methods presented for 3-regular random graphs and a design problem motivated by industry for sizes up to 40 nodes, on superconducting quantum processors.