Glassy Chimeras Could Be Blind to Quantum Speedup: Designing Better Benchmarks for Quantum Annealing Machines Academic Article uri icon


  • Recently, a programmable quantum annealing machine has been built that minimizes the cost function of hard optimization problems by, in principle, adiabatically quenching quantum fluctuations. Tests performed by different research teams have shown that, indeed, the machine seems to exploit quantum effects. However, experiments on a class of random-bond instances have not yet demonstrated an advantage over classical optimization algorithms on traditional computer hardware. Here, we present evidence as towhy this might be the case. These engineered quantum annealing machines effectively operate coupled to a decohering thermal bath. Therefore, we study the finite-temperature critical behavior of the standard benchmark problem used to assess the computational capabilities of these complex machines. We simulate both random-bond Ising models and spin glasses with bimodal and Gaussian disorder on the D-Wave Chimera topology. Our results show that while the worst-case complexity of finding a ground state of an Ising spin glass on the Chimera graph is not polynomial, the finite-temperature phase space is likely rather simple because spin glasses on Chimera have only a zero-temperature transition. This means that benchmarking optimization methods using spin glasses on the Chimera graph might not be the best benchmark problems to test quantum speedup. We propose alternative benchmarks by embedding potentially harder problems on the Chimera topology. Finally, we also study the (reentrant) disordertemperature phase diagram of the random-bond Ising model on the Chimera graph and show that a finitetemperature ferromagnetic phase is stable up to 19.85(15)% antiferromagnetic bonds. Beyond this threshold, the system only displays a zero-temperature spin-glass phase. Our results therefore show that a careful design of the hardware architecture and benchmark problems is key when building quantum annealing machines.

altmetric score

  • 30.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Katzgraber, H. G., Hamze, F., & Andrist, R. S.

citation count

  • 103

publication date

  • April 2014