Efficient, Predictive Tomography of Multi-Qubit Quantum Processors
After decades of R&D, quantum computers comprising more than 2 qubits are appearing. If this progress is to continue, the research community requires a capability for precise characterization (“tomography”) of these enlarged devices, which will enable benchmarking, improvement, and finally certification as mission-ready. As world leaders in characterization -- our gate set tomography (GST) method is the current state of the art – the project team is keenly aware that every existing protocol is either (1) catastrophically inefficient for more than 2 qubits, or (2) not rich enough to predict device behavior. GST scales poorly, while the popular randomized benchmarking technique only measures a single aggregated error probability. This project explored a new insight: that the combinatorial explosion plaguing standard GST could be avoided by using an ansatz of few-qubit interactions to build a complete, efficient model for multi-qubit errors. We developed this approach, prototyped it, and tested it on a cutting-edge quantum processor developed by Rigetti Quantum Computing (RQC), a US-based startup. We implemented our new models within Sandia’s PyGSTi open-source code, and tested them experimentally on the RQC device by probing crosstalk. We found two major results: first, our schema worked and is viable for further development; second, while the Rigetti device is indeed a “real” 8-qubit quantum processor, its behavior fluctuated significantly over time while we were experimenting with it and this drift made it difficult to fit our models of crosstalk to the data.