Noise-tolerant quantum speedups in quantum annealing without fine-tuning
Quantum annealing is a powerful alternative model of quantum computing, which can succeed in the presence of environmental noise even without error correction. However, despite great effort, no conclusive demonstration of a quantum speedup (relative to state of the art classical algorithms) has been shown for these systems, and rigorous theoretical proofs of a quantum advantage (such as the adiabatic formulation of Grover's search problem) generally rely on exponential precision in at least some aspects of the system, an unphysical resource guaranteed to be scrambled by experimental uncertainties and random noise. In this work, we propose a new variant of quantum annealing, called RFQA, which can maintain a scalable quantum speedup in the face of noise and modest control precision. Specifically, we consider a modification of flux qubit-based quantum annealing which includes low-frequency oscillations in the directions of the transverse field terms as the system evolves. We show that this method produces a quantum speedup for finding ground states in the Grover problem and quantum random energy model, and thus should be widely applicable to other hard optimization problems which can be formulated as quantum spin glasses. Further, we explore three realistic noise channels and show that the speedup from RFQA is resilient to 1/f-like local potential fluctuations and local heating from interaction with a sufficiently low temperature bath. Another noise channel, bath-assisted quantum cooling transitions, actually accelerates the algorithm and may outweigh the negative effects of the others. We also detail how RFQA may be implemented experimentally with current technology.