July 2, 2019

Readiness of Quantum Optimization Machines for Industrial Applications

  • Alejandro Perdomo-Ortiz

Within all the quantum computing paradigms, quantum annealing has been in the spotlight as the most natural approach to tackle optimization problems. Although such optimization problems are abundant in industry, an analysis of the performance of quantum optimization machines on real-world applications has been out of reach to date. Here we perform a comprehensive study of the readiness of quantum optimization for real-world applications, comparing to state-of-the-art classical heuristics on problem instances derived from an industrial application: the case of fault diagnosis in digital circuits. 


There have been multiple attempts to demonstrate that quantum annealing and, in particular, quantum anneal- ing on quantum annealing machines, has the potential to outperform current classical optimization algorithms implemented on CMOS technologies. The benchmarking of these devices has been controversial. Initially, random spin-glass problems were used, however, these were quickly shown to be not well suited to detect any quantum speedup. Subsequently, benchmarking shifted to carefully crafted synthetic problems designed to high- light the quantum nature of the hardware while (often) ensuring that classical optimization techniques do not perform well on them. Even worse, to date a true sign of improved scaling with the number of problem variables remains elusive when compared to classical optimization techniques. Here, we analyze the readiness of quantum annealing machines for real-world application problems. These are typically not random and have an underlying structure that is hard to capture in synthetic benchmarks, thus posing unexpected challenges for optimization techniques, both classical and quantum alike. We present a comprehensive computational scaling analysis of fault diagnosis in digital circuits, considering architectures beyond D-wave quantum annealers. We find that the instances generated from real data in multiplier circuits are harder than other representative random spin-glass benchmarks with a comparable number of variables. Although our results show that transverse-field quantum annealing is outperformed by state-of-the-art classical optimization algorithms, these benchmark instances are hard and small in the size of the input, therefore representing the first industrial application ideally suited for testing near-term quantum annealers and other quantum algorithmic strategies for optimization problems.

Alejandro Perdomo-Ortiz
Zapata Author

Alejandro Perdomo-Ortiz , Ph.D.

Research Director, Quantum AI/ML