Publications / Conference Poster

An approximation algorithm for the MAX-2-local hamiltonian problem

Hallgren, Sean; Lee, Eunou; Parekh, Ojas D.

We present a classical approximation algorithm for the MAX-2-Local Hamiltonian problem. This is a maximization version of the QMA-complete 2-Local Hamiltonian problem in quantum computing, with the additional assumption that each local term is positive semidefinite. The MAX-2-Local Hamiltonian problem generalizes NP-hard constraint satisfaction problems, and our results may be viewed as generalizations of approximation approaches for the MAX-2-CSP problem. We work in the product state space and extend the framework of Goemans and Williamson for approximating MAX-2-CSPs. The key difference is that in the product state setting, a solution consists of a set of normalized 3-dimensional vectors rather than boolean numbers, and we leverage approximation results for rank-constrained Grothendieck inequalities. For MAX-2-Local Hamiltonian we achieve an approximation ratio of 0.328. This is the first example of an approximation algorithm beating the random quantum assignment ratio of 0.25 by a constant factor.