Warwick Researchers Take on Quantum Leakage

A new computer program detects a common form of information loss that is limiting the development of production-ready quantum computers.

Scientists have made recent strides in quantum computing, but much uncertainly still surrounds the revolutionary new technology. One of the problems is the difficulty in verifying when the quantum computer is functioning properly. Researchers at the University of Warwick have created a computer program that will check the reliability of the quantum operations. A paper on the program was published in the March issue of Physical Review A.

The program detects the presence of “leakage,” which occurs when the information being processed by the quantum computer escapes from the 0 or 1 states. According to the announcement, “In conventional computing, computers use combinations of 0s and 1s to encode information, but quantum computers can exploit quantum states that are both 0 and 1 at the same time. However, the hardware that encodes that information may sometimes encode it incorrectly in another state, a problem known as leakage. Even a miniscule leakage accumulating over many millions of hardware components can cause miscalculations and potentially serious errors, nullifying any quantum advantage over conventional computers. As a part of a much wider set of errors, leakage is playing its part in preventing quantum computers from being scaled up towards commercial and industrial application.”

The Warwick team says most quantum computing hardware platforms suffer from some form of leakage, and better software tools will lead to new techniques for error correction and mitigation.