Reinforcement learning for optimization of variational quantum circuit architectures

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Mateusz Ostaszewski, Lea M. Trenkwalder, Wojciech Masarczyk, Eleanor Scerri, Vedran Dunjko


The study of Variational Quantum Eigensolvers (VQEs) has been in the spotlight in recent times as they may lead to real-world applications of near-term quantum devices. However, their performance depends on the structure of the used variational ansatz, which requires balancing the depth and expressivity of the corresponding circuit. At the same time, near-term restrictions limit the depth of the circuit we can expect to run. Thus, the optimization of the VQE ansatz requires maximizing the expressivity of the circuit while maintaining low depth. In recent years, various methods for VQE structure optimization have been introduced but the capacities of machine learning to aid with this problem have not yet been extensively investigated. In this work, we propose a reinforcement learning algorithm that autonomously explores the space of possible ansatzes, identifying economic circuits which still yield accurate ground energy estimates. The algorithm uses a feedback-driven curriculum learning method that autonomously adapts the complexity of the learning problem to the current performance of the learning algorithm and it incrementally improves the accuracy of the result while minimizing the circuit depth. We showcase the performance of our algorithm on the problem of estimating the ground-state energy of lithium hydride (LiH) in various configurations. In this well-known benchmark problem, we achieve chemical accuracy and state-of-the-art results in terms of circuit depth.