Exploring Quantum Volume | What Is It and How to Measure Its Power?

24 June 2023
10 min read
Hrant Gharibyan
Co-founder & CEO
Quantum volume explained complete guide

Ready to challenge the boundaries of computing? Quantum volume holds the answers. Prepare to be taken on a mind-bending adventure as we explore the intriguing concept of quantum volume - the peak of evaluation for quantum computing power. In this article, we won't shy away from the complex or the curious; we'll dive deep into the heart of quantum supremacy.

Imagine a world where bits aren't just 0s and 1s but radiant probability sections connected in a dance of infinite possibilities. This is the world of quantum computing, and at its core is the concept of Quantum volume, which determines a quantum computer's ability to handle complex quantum operations. It considers both the number of qubits and the quality of those qubits, including their error rates and controllability. This broad technique provides a more precise evaluation of a quantum processor's capabilities.

What exactly is quantum volume? In essence, it sets the bar for quantum computers to prove their mettle in tackling real-world problems efficiently and reliably, ultimately pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in quantum computation.

Foundations of Quantum Computing

By harnessing the complex laws of quantum mechanics, quantum computing, an emerging field at the intersection of physics and computer science, explores the potential of transforming computation. Unlike traditional computers, which utilize bits (0s and 1s), quantum computers employ quantum bits or qubits. What sets qubits apart is their unique ability to exist in a state of superposition, allowing them to process information in a fundamentally different and highly parallel way, potentially solving complex problems more efficiently. The property of superposition grants quantum computers an inherent parallelism, enabling them to process vast amounts of information exponentially faster for certain problems.

Furthermore, qubits can become entangled, a phenomenon in which one qubit's state is interdependent with another, even when separated by enormous distances. Due to this entanglement, quantum computers may conduct operations on several intricately paired qubits, potentially solving complex issues more efficiently than classical versions.

Interference is a mechanism that allows the probability amplitudes of qubits to align constructively or destructively, increasing or preventing particular outcomes. This enables quantum algorithms to modify probabilities in ways that classical computers cannot, potentially leading to cryptography, optimization, material science, and artificial intelligence developments.

However, the growing nature of quantum computing power poses challenges such as qubit stability, error correction, and scalability. Researchers are currently finding strategies to overcome these challenges, bringing quantum computation closer to its full potential and ushering in a new era of problem-solving and technological innovation.

Further reading: Science Fiction Meets Reality: The Law of Superposition in Quantum Computing

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Quantum Bits (Qubits) and Their Properties

At the core of quantum computing's revolutionary promise lie quantum bits, often referred to as qubits. Unlike traditional bits, which can be either 0 or 1, qubits have a surprising property known as superposition. This characteristic enables qubits to reside in both states simultaneously, greatly expanding computing possibilities. This inherent duality serves as the foundation for quantum parallelism, allowing qubits to conduct many operations at the same time, which classical bits cannot do.

Entanglement, a phenomenon in which the state of one qubit becomes connected with another, even when separated by huge distances, is another unique property of qubits. This interconnection allows qubits to instantly share information, paving the way for complex and powerful computations.

Conversely, qubits are extremely fragile and prone to environmental perturbations, resulting in calculating errors. Quantum decoherence, or the loss of coherence among qubits, is a major difficulty. To overcome this, researchers are working on error correction approaches to assure qubit stability and reliability.

Qubit manipulation requires precise control over their quantum states. Quantum gates are similar to classical logic gates in executing operations on qubits. When qubits perform functions, their probability amplitudes may combine, leading to constructive or destructive outcomes. This interference underpins the power of quantum algorithms, which provide unparalleled potential for dealing with difficult problems across various fields.

Quantum Entanglement and Superposition

two particles quantum entanglement

Fundamental principles within the realm of quantum mechanics, quantum entanglement, and superposition defy classical intuitions regarding the intricate behaviors exhibited by subatomic particles.

Entanglement in quantum mechanics is the strong correlation between two or more particles, even when they are separated by great distances.  When particles become entangled, their properties, like spin or polarization, become connected, and the state of one particle affects the state of the other immediately, regardless of their spatial separation.

Einstein was captivated by this occurrence, which he described as "spooky action at a distance."

Conversely, superposition describes the unique behavior of quantum particles existing in multiple states simultaneously. Unlike classical objects with definite properties, quantum particles can combine different forms until measured. For example, an electron can be in a superposition of "spin up" and "spin down" until observed, collapsing into one of those states upon measurement.

These concepts have profound implications for developing quantum technologies, such as quantum computing and cryptography. Entanglement enables secure communication and faster computations, while superposition forms the basis for quantum computing's potential to solve complex problems exponentially faster than classical computers. Understanding these phenomena is crucial for advancing our knowledge of the quantum world and harnessing its unique capabilities for future technologies.

The Need for a Metric: Traditional vs. Quantum Computing Power

The main difference between traditional and quantum computing is how they process and manipulate information. Conventional computers, built upon classical physics principles, utilize binary bits as the basic unit of data, processed through logic gates. Quantum computing, grounded in quantum mechanics, leverages quantum bits or qubits, allowing for parallel processing and intricate information handling.

Traditional computers excel at tasks that require sequential calculations, while quantum computers exhibit immense potential for solving complex problems much faster. Quantum computing's power is measured by a metric called "quantum volume," which considers the number of qubits, error rates, and gate fidelity. Due to superposition, Quantum computers' ability to explore multiple solutions simultaneously enables them to potentially revolutionize many fields.

Recommended Reading: Unraveling the Secrets of Quantum Cryptography: What Is It and How to Prepare?

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However, quantum computing is not a direct replacement for classical computing. Creating and maintaining stable qubits is a major difficulty. As of now, quantum computers are in their early stages of development. Collaborative efforts across academia and industry aim to unleash the full potential of quantum computing, complementing traditional computers and transforming the landscape of computational power and problem-solving capabilities.

Understanding Quantum Volume

A comprehensive metric delving into the ability of quantum computers, quantum volume encapsulates a multitude of fundamental attributes in quantum processing. It includes numerous fundamental characteristics of quantum processing, making it a multidimensional measure that provides an expanded perspective of the performance of a quantum system.

In quantum computing, the multidimensional nature of quantum volume stems from its incorporation of multiple factors. It considers the number of qubits, their error rates, and the fidelity of quantum gates. This combination provides a more nuanced understanding of a quantum processor's overall effectiveness, surpassing simple qubit count as a sole indicator.

As a measure of quantum computational capabilities, quantum volume is particularly significant. It reflects a quantum computer's capacity to handle complex calculations, simulate intricate physical systems, and solve problems efficiently. The higher the quantum volume, the more capable a quantum system is in tackling complex tasks, showcasing advancements in both hardware and error mitigation techniques.

Quantum volume is also a useful research tool in the development of quantum technology. It helps researchers in analyzing the progress of quantum hardware and error correction approaches, which drives advancements in different parts of quantum computing systems.

In essence, the multidimensional evaluation of quantum volume, its function in quantifying quantum computational capacities, and its utility as a research tool all highlight its importance in increasing the capabilities and potential of quantum computing systems.

Balancing Quantum Count and Gate Accuracy through Quantum Volume

Quantum count refers to the number of qubits in a quantum computer. The quantum count indicates the capacity or size of a quantum computer in terms of the number of qubits it utilizes for performing quantum computations, which gives quantum computers their unique computational power.

In quantum computing, gates are operations performed on qubits to manipulate their quantum states. Gate accuracy, or gate fidelity, measures how accurately a quantum gate performs its intended function. It quantifies how closely the actual quantum state produced by the gate matches the desired shape. High gate accuracy is crucial for reliable quantum computations.

The relationship between quantum count and gate accuracy is crucial. A higher quantum count allows for more powerful computations but also introduces more opportunities for errors. Gate accuracy ensures that operations are performed correctly on each qubit, mitigating the impact of errors. Quantum volume effectively balances these factors, increasing when quantum count and gate accuracy improve. In other words, it encapsulates the optimal combination of qubit count and gate accuracy needed for robust quantum computation.

Measuring Quantum Volume: Methodology

Measuring Quantum Volume
Source: Pennylane

Evaluating quantum volume is a process for assessing a quantum computer's operational capability. Quantum volume measures the largest random quantum circuit that a quantum processor can successfully perform. Among the phases are creating progressively complex quantum circuits, adding error mitigation mechanisms, evolution of quantum circuits with increasing complexity, and assessing the results.

In the realm of quantum computing, progress is marked by significant achievements that reshape the boundaries of computational potential. A prime example is the Quantinuum quantum computer, reaching new records with its H1-1 system achieving a quantum volume of 16,384 (214), and then 32,768 (215). This stride propels us closer to a future where industries harness our solutions to tackle computational challenges that were once deemed unattainable for conventional computing methods.

The image visually captures the essence of quantum volume measurement, illustrating the progression from simpler to more complex quantum circuits. This process allows researchers to evaluate and compare the quantum computational abilities of different systems, leading to advancements in quantum hardware and error correction techniques.

Quantum Circuits and Design

By utilizing sequences of quantum gates, qubits are manipulated to perform specific operations in the realm of quantum computing. Designing quantum circuits for quantum volume measurement involves gradually increasing circuit depth and complexity while applying error mitigation techniques. Gates like Hadamard, CNOT, and random unitaries are employed to create intricate circuits that challenge the quantum processor's capabilities.

Circuit Depth Increment

Quantum circuits are designed with increasing depth, adding more gates to each circuit layer.

Random Unitaries

Random unitary operations are inserted between layers to amplify the complexity of the circuit.

Measurement and Analysis

The quantum circuit is executed multiple times, and measurements are taken. The fidelity of the quantum gates and the system's error rates are estimated by analyzing the measurement outcomes.

Quantum Volume Calculation

The maximum circuit depth the quantum computer can handle with a certain level of fidelity is determined. This value represents the Quantum Volume and quantifies the system's computational capabilities.

Quantum Volume’s Future Progress

As quantum computing evolves rapidly, major achievements by pioneering businesses push the industry forward. Both IBM and Quantinuum, two major leaders in quantum research, have recently achieved significant milestones in Quantum Volume, a critical metric of quantum computer capability. These achievements demonstrate the tremendous progress being made in the quantum field, highlighting the potential for addressing complex issues that were long considered impossible.

IBM's Quantum Volume milestone

quantum volume milestone research
Source: IBM

IBM continues to play a leading role in advancing quantum volume, a critical metric for assessing quantum computing capabilities. Their latest achievement involves reaching an IBM Quantum Volume of 256. This remarkable milestone demonstrates IBM's dedication to pushing the boundaries of quantum computing, with the potential to handle even more complex computations and challenges. This achievement reflects advancements in qubit quality, error mitigation techniques, and overall system performance.

Quantinuum's Quantum Volume Breakthrough

In an exciting development, Quantinuum has also made significant strides in quantum computing. As discussed in the article, their achievement of a five-digit Quantinuum quantum volume marks a pivotal moment for the field. Realizing a quantum volume with five digits signals the progress made in error correction, gate fidelity, and qubit stability. This advancement suggests that quantum computing is moving closer to tackling complex real-world problems, offering potential solutions that were previously unattainable.

Final Thoughts

Quantum volume emerges as a flame directing us to unexplored computing horizons in the realm of quantum computing. Quantum volume holds the key to challenging the boundaries of computing. It's a multidimensional metric that evaluates a quantum computer's ability to handle complex quantum operations, accounting for qubit quantity, quality, error rates, and control precision.

As we grasp the essence of this intricate metric, we unlock a new era of problem-solving potential. With industry pioneers like IBM, Google and Quantinuum achieving remarkable quantum volumes, the future shines bright.

Quantum computing's journey is one of resilience, innovation, and transformative progress. Prepare for the start of this quantum journey, embracing the power of quantum volume to transform our understanding of computation and catapult us into unexplored fields of technological innovation.

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In a nutshell, quantum computing is an interesting field with enormous potential for revolutionizing industries. Step boldly into the future at BlueQubit to see how this defining principle impacts our view of the quantum world.

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