We consider a generic framework of optimization algorithms based on gradient descent. We develop a quantum algorithm that computes the gradient of a multi-variate realvalued function f : ℝd → ℝ by evaluating it at only a logarithmic number of times in superposition. Our algorithm is an improved version of Jordan's gradient computation algorithm [28], providing an approximation of the gradient ▽f with quadratically better dependence on the evaluation accuracy of f, for an important class of smooth functions. Furthermore, we show that objective functions arising from variational quantum circuits usually satisfy the necessary smoothness conditions, hence our algorithm provides a quadratic improvement in the complexity of computing their gradient. We also show that in a continuous phase-query model, our gradient computation algorithm has optimal query complexity up to poly-logarithmic factors, for a particular class of smooth functions. Moreover, we show that for low-degree multivariate polynomials our algorithm can provide exponential speedups compared to Jordan's algorithm in terms of the dimension d.

One of the technical challenges in applying our gradient computation procedure for quantum optimization problems is the need to convert between a probability oracle (which is common in quantum optimization procedures) and a phase oracle (which is common in quantum algorithms) of the objective function f. We provide efficient subroutines to perform this delicate interconversion between the two types of oracles incurring only a logarithmic overhead, which might be of independent interest. Finally, using these tools we improve the runtime of prior approaches for training quantum auto-encoders, variational quantum eigensolvers (VQE), and quantum approximate optimization algorithms (QAOA).

Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Amsterdam (CWI), The Netherlands

Gilyén, A.P, Arunachalam, S, & Wiebe, N. (2019). Optimizing quantum optimization algorithms via faster quantum gradient computation. In Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (pp. 1425–1444). doi:10.1137/1.9781611975482.87