A Parallel Environment for Simulating Quantum Computation

Patz, G. "A Parallel Environment for Simulating Quantum Computation"


This thesis describes the design and implementation of an environment to allow quantum computation to be simulated on classical computers. Although it is believed that quantum computers cannot in general be efficiently simulated classically, it is nevertheless possible to simulate small but interesting systems, on the order of a few tens of quantum bits. Since the state of the art of physical implementations is less than 10 bits, simulation remains a useful tool for understanding the behavior of quantum algorithms.

To create a suitable envrionment for simulation, we constructed a 32-node cluster of workstation class computers linked with a high speed (gigabit Ethernet) network. We then wrote an initial simulation environment based on parallel linear algebra libraries with a Matlab front end. These libraries operated on large matrices representing the problem being simulated.

The parallel Matlab environment demonstrated a degree of parallel speedup as we added processors, but overall execution times were high, since the amount of data scaled exponentially with the size of the problem. This increased both the number of operations that had to be performed to compute the simulation, and the volume of data that had to be communicated between the nodes as they were computing. The scaling also affected memory utilization, limiting us to a maximum problem size of 14 qubits.

In an attempt to increase simulation efficiency, we revisited the design of the simulation environment. Many quantum algorithms have a structure that can be described using the tensor product operator from linear algebra. We believed that a new simulation environment based on this tensor product structure would be substantially more efficient than one based on large matrices. We designed a new simulation envrionment that exploited this tensor product structure. Benchmarks that we performed on the new simulation environment confirmed that it was substantially more efficient, allowing us to perform simulations of the quantum Fourier transform and the discrete approximation to the solution of 3-SAT by adiabatic evolution up to 25 qubits in a reasonable time.

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