Error correction is one of the most significant challenge in quantum computing. Riverlane, the first quantum engineering company in the world, recently developed the world’s first scalable quantum error decoder to effectively address this issue.
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Quantum Computing and Error Correction
Quantum computers can fundamentally change the world by unlocking a new computational model that can enable users to precisely simulate nature on a molecular scale, solve fundamental quantum physics equations, and design cutting-edge products.
These computers can harness the principles of quantum physics to manipulate and encode information to run powerful algorithms. However, modern quantum computers are unable to realize these possibilities as their primary components, the qubits, are highly susceptible to errors.
Qubits are exceptionally sensitive to disturbances/interferences from their environment and other parts of the computer, leading to decoherence. Thus, every operation performed on a qubit can potentially introduce an error, which restricts the length of the program that a quantum computer can run before it is overwhelmed by the accumulated errors.
Modern quantum computers can only perform approximately 100 operations before becoming unreliable. However, they have to perform millions of such operations to solve real-world problems. Building quantum computers with more qubits cannot resolve this issue.
Designing and implementing systems that enable quantum computers to detect and correct their errors rapidly is necessary to realize the full potential of quantum computing. Hardware improvements can reduce the error rates to a smaller extent until the development of more stable and high-fidelity logical qubits. However, these steps are also insufficient to reliably run algorithms with millions or billions of operations on quantum computers.
Thus, building error-corrected quantum computers that can perform error correction across thousands of interconnected qubits millions of times per second by overcoming the quantum error correction barrier is the most significant technical challenge in the field of quantum computing.
Riverlane is uniquely placed to confront error correction challenges. Founded in 2016 and supported by Cambridge University, the quantum engineering company’s mission is to increase the usefulness of quantum computing much sooner than previously imagined to start the era of human progress and digital and industrial revolutions. Riverlane has created a world-leading quantum engineering team to develop the quantum computer operating system to tackle practical error correction at all levels of the quantum computing stack.
Quantum Error Correction Solution
Although several quantum error correcting codes/methods were developed in the last two decades to encode quantum information in a way that protects it from noise and interference, the implementation of such error correction by building a fault-tolerant quantum computer remains challenging as every gate/measurement generates errors during operation. Thus, a protocol for performing error correction is required that tolerates errors in all gates in a real machine.
A fault-tolerant computer using superconducting qubits must complete over two million error correction cycles per second. However, the designing of the control system chips that correct and diagnose errors is challenging as complex chips can increase the possibility of interference with qubits.
Recently, a study conducted by a Google team effectively demonstrated error correction on real hardware by repeatedly performing measurements using numerous qubits. The error rate decreased exponentially when the team performed a higher-order error correction.
The effectiveness of quantum error correction that affects quantum computer accuracy is also influenced by the qubit topology and the architecture of other components such as cooling or control systems. Thus, quantum error correction-aware design choices play a critical role in these systems.
Riverlane can assist in this area as the company has developed tools to measure the probability of a quantum computer correctly performing an operation/logical fidelity of the computer.
These tools enable quantum computer makers to determine the most suitable quantum error correction scheme for their hardware and the way the hardware must be designed to exploit the full potential of the scheme through quantum error correction feasibility analysis and sensitivity analysis.
However, powerful decoders that can identify errors in quantum computers are required to perform these analyses. Riverlane is developing new and highly efficient techniques for decoding and innovative methods to implement these techniques on dedicated hardware.
Recently, Riverlane solved this long-standing quantum error correction problem by developing a new parallel window decoding methodology, which can facilitate the development of first-generation scalable fault tolerant/error-corrected quantum computers that can perform millions of high-speed operations without disruption. These computers can effectively address unsolvable problems in fields such as new drug design and clean energy.
Bigger error-correcting codes are required during the execution of longer quantum computations, which generates a substantial amount of error-correction data in the range of terabytes per second. The data must be processed at the rate it is generated to ensure that the quantum computation does not stop due to data accumulation.
The new decoding methodology developed by Riverlane parallelizes the data processing problem and realizes almost arbitrary processing speed without affecting accuracy. Moreover, the scalability of the decoding hardware can support a larger number of qubits in the computer. Thus, the scalable quantum error decoder represents a breakthrough in decoding technology.
Applications and Future Outlook of Quantum Computing
Quantum computing can play a critical role in several applications, including drug discovery and development and catalyst designing. Quantum computing can also help in tackling climate change and enabling a hydrogen economy.
Quantum computing devices have achieved significant progress in the last five years. For instance, larger noisy intermediate scale quantum (NISQ) algorithms and the way to build error-corrected quantum computers have been demonstrated during this period.
Riverlane has recently announced a partnership with Rigetti, a leading company in hybrid quantum-classical computing, to tackle syndrome extraction on superconducting quantum computers. Innovate UK is backing this partnership.
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References and Further Reading
Skoric, L., Browne, D. E., Barnes, K. M., Gillespie, N. I., Campbell, E. T. (2022). Parallel window decoding enables scalable fault tolerant quantum computation. ArXiv. https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2209.08552
Flower, A. (2022). Riverlane and Rigetti Computing launch partnership to tackle error correction on superconducting quantum computers [Online] Available at https://www.riverlane.com/press-release/riverlane-and-rigetti-computing-launch-partnership-to-tackle-error-correction-on-superconducting-quantum-computers?types= (Accessed on 20 January 2023)
Quantum Computing Theory in Practice 2023 [Online] Available at https://www.riverlane.com/event/quantum-computing-theory-in-practice-2023 (Accessed on 20 January 2023)
Who we are [Online] Available at https://www.riverlane.com/who-we-are (Accessed on 20 January 2023)
News & events [Online] https://www.riverlane.com/news-events (Accessed on 20 January 2023)
Taylor, J. (2022). Why cracking quantum error correction is the key that will unlock quantum computing [Online] Available at https://www.riverlane.com/blog/why-cracking-quantum-error-correction-is-the-key-that-will-unlock-quantum-computing?page=2&page-start=1&types= (Accessed on 20 January 2023)
Flower, A. (2021). Riverlane convenes panel of world-leading experts on quantum error correction [Online] Available at https://www.riverlane.com/event/riverlane-convenes-panel-of-world-leading-experts-on-quantum-error-correction?page=2&page-start=1&types= (Accessed on 20 January 2023)
Cap, S. (2022). When is the right time for quantum computer makers to explore error correction? [Online] Available at https://www.riverlane.com/blog/when-is-the-right-time-for-quantum-computer-makers-to-explore-error-correction?types= (Accessed on 20 January 2023)
Skoric, L. (2022). Riverlane publishes landmark paper towards useful, scalable quantum computing [Online] Available at https://www.riverlane.com/press-release/riverlane-publishes-landmark-paper-towards-useful-scalable-quantum-computing?types= (Accessed on 20 January 2023)
Manoff, G. (2022). Riverlane unveils breakthrough in quantum error correction [Online] Available at https://www.riverlane.com/press-release/riverlane-unveils-breakthrough-in-quantum-error-correction (Accessed on 20 January 2023)