Nav: Home

Simulating quantum systems with neural networks

July 01, 2019

Even on the scale of everyday life, nature is governed by the laws of quantum physics. These laws explain common phenomena like light, sound, heat, or even the trajectories of balls on a pool table. But when applied to a large number of interacting particles, the laws of quantum physics actually predict a variety of phenomena that defy intuition.

In order to study quantum systems made of many particles, physicists must first be able to simulate them. This can be done by solving the equations describing their inner workings on supercomputers. But while Moore's Law predicts that the processing power of computers doubles every couple of years, this is a far cry from the power needed to tackle the challenges of quantum physics.

The reason is that predicting the properties of a quantum system is enormously complex, demanding a computational power that grows exponentially with the size of the quantum system - an "intrinsically complex" task, according to Professor Vincenzo Savona, who directs the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics of Nanosystems at EPFL.

"Things become even more complicated when the quantum system is open, meaning that it is subject to the disturbances of its surrounding environment," Savona adds. And yet, tools to efficiently simulate open quantum systems are much needed, as most modern experimental platforms for quantum science and technology are open systems, and physicists are constantly in search of new ways to simulate and benchmark them.

But significant progress has been made thanks to a new computational method that simulates quantum systems with neural networks. The method was developed by Savona and his PhD student Alexandra Nagy at EPFL - and independently by scientists at Université Paris Diderot, the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, and the Flatiron Institute in New York. The total body of work is being published across three papers in Physical Review Letters.

"We basically combined advances in neural networks and machine-learning with quantum Monte Carlo tools," says Savona, referring to a large toolkit of computational methods that physicists use to study complex quantum systems. The scientists trained a neural network to represent simultaneously the many quantum states in which a quantum system can be cast by the influence of its environment.

The neural-network approach allowed the physicists to predict the properties of quantum systems of considerable size and arbitrary geometry. "This is a novel computational approach that addresses the problem of open quantum systems with versatility and a lot of potential for scaling up," says Savona. The method is set to become a tool of choice for the study of complex quantum systems, and, looking a bit more into the future, for assessing the effects of noise on quantum hardware.

Alexandra Nagy, Vincenzo Savona. Variational quantum Monte Carlo with neural network ansatz for open quantum systems. Physical Review Letters Phys. Rev. Lett. 122, 250501 (2019). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.122.250501

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Related Quantum Physics Articles:

Attosecond physics: Quantum brakes in molecules
Physicists have measured the flight times of electrons emitted from a specific atom in a molecule upon excitation with laser light.
Quantum physics: On the way to quantum networks
Physicists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich, together with colleagues at Saarland University, have successfully demonstrated the transport of an entangled state between an atom and a photon via an optic fiber over a distance of up to 20 km -- thus setting a new record.
Quantum physics: Controlled experiment observes self-organized criticality
Researchers from Cologne, Heidelberg, Strasbourg and California have observed important characteristics of complex systems in a lab experiment.
A platform for stable quantum computing, a playground for exotic physics
Harvard University researchers have demonstrated the first material that can have both strongly correlated electron interactions and topological properties, which not only paves the way for more stable quantum computing but also an entirely new platform to explore the wild world of exotic physics.
A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'
A new protocol created by researchers at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona sorts and classifies quantum data by the state in which they were prepared, with more efficiency than the equivalent classical algorithm.
Quantum physics: Ménage à trois photon-style
When two photons become entangled, the quantum state of the first will correlate perfectly with the quantum state of the second.
Quantum physics -- Simulating fundamental interactions with ultracold atoms
An international team of physicists succeeded in precisely engineering key ingredients to simulate a specific lattice gauge theory using ultracold atoms in optical lattices.
A key piece to understanding how quantum gravity affects low-energy physics
In a new study, led by researchers from SISSA (Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati), the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Waterloo, a solid theoretical framework is provided to discuss modifications to the Unruh effect caused by the microstructure of space-time.
Helping physics teachers who don't know physics
A shortage of high school physics teachers has led to teachers with little-to-no training taking over physics classrooms, reports show.
Quantum physics and origami for the ultimate get-well card
The bizarre optical properties of tiny metal particles -- smaller than light waves -- can be captured on paper to detect even a single target molecule in a test sample.
More Quantum Physics News and Quantum Physics Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#569 Facing Fear
What do you fear? I mean really fear? Well, ok, maybe right now that's tough. We're living in a new age and definition of fear. But what do we do about it? Eva Holland has faced her fears, including trauma and phobia. She lived to tell the tale and write a book: "Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear".
Now Playing: Radiolab

First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at