QUANTUM COMPUTING: Quantum versus classical annealing of Ising spin glasses

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Quantum annealers use quantum fluctuations to escape local minima and find low-energy configurations of a physical system. Strong evidence for superiority of quantum annealing (QA) has come from comparing QA implemented through quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) simulations to classical annealing. Motivated by recent experiments, we revisit the question of when quantum speedup may be expected. Although a better scaling is seen for QA in two-dimensional Ising spin glasses, this advantage is due to time discretization artifacts and measurements that are not possible on a physical quantum annealer. Simulations in the physically relevant continuous time limit, on the other hand, do not show superiority. Our results imply that care must be taken when using QMC simulations to assess the potential for quantum speedup.

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