May 6

With just one line of code, the student solved a two-decade-long challenge of quantum computing


The solution to this problem was discovered while this sophomore was doing his homework.

Promising for a great deal of disruptive potential to change many of the world’s sciences, one of the biggest problems with quantum computers for decades is the stability of these systems. But this could change forever thanks to the work of a young student at the University of Sydney, Pablo Bonilla.

The main components in quantum computers are qubits – the switches of the quantum computer. In essence, it is similar to the transistors found in today’s computing devices. However, these qubits are particularly sensitive to external environmental disturbances. Even a small change in temperature, sound, gravity or the external magnetic field can cause errors for these qubits as well as the algorithm that runs on it.

To improve the stability of quantum computers, scientists have created an algorithm called Quantum Error Correction – quantum error correction algorithm – to identify and correct errors in quantum computers. death.

In this algorithm, the quantum information stored on a single qubit is also distributed over the supporting qubits – in other words, the information is encoded in a logical quantum bit. This approach has been in use for about two decades on quantum computers. Even though this algorithm guarantees the integrity of the information, it comes at a cost by consuming more qubits for storing the information. The more noise, the more qubits it takes to preserve information. Depending on the nature of the hardware and the type of algorithm, it may take up to 1,000 qubits to obtain a single logical qubit.

Pablo Bonilla, a sophomore at the University of Sydney

One of the homework for Bonilla, a sophomore at the University of Sydney, is looking for ways to improve the efficiency of this algorithm. But it turns out that the problem that has persisted in quantum computers for nearly two decades can be solved with a “simple but genius” change by Bonilla in the quantum error correction algorithm. After Bonilla’s refinement, the quantum computers’ ability to self-correct has doubled.

“By flipping half the quantum switches, or qubits, in my design, we found to effectively double the error elimination capacity,” Bonilla said.

The young student’s discovery quickly attracted the attention of leading researchers on quantum computers. The giant Amazon Web Services Quantum Computing Technology Research Center as well as Yale and Duke Universities are interested in this new discovery.

Professor Shruti Puri from Yale’s Quantum Research program said: “What shocked me even more about this new line of code was its amazing sophistication.”

Mr. Ben Brown, Bonilla’s mentor and co-author of Bonilla’s study, said he himself was stunned by the student’s discovery, when no one noticed it during the past two decades. Bonilla’s research is currently published in the journal Nature Communications.


Pablo Bonilla, quantum

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