Quantinuum and CU Boulder just made quantum error correction easier

July 1, 2024

For a quantum computer to be useful, it must be universal, have lots of qubits, and be able to detect and correct errors. The error correction step must be done so well that in the final calculations, you only see an error in less than one in a billion (or maybe even one in a trillion) tries. Correcting errors on a quantum computer is quite tricky, and most current error correcting schemes are quite expensive for quantum computers to run.

We’ve teamed up with researchers at the University of Colorado to make error correction a little easier – bringing the era of quantum ‘fault tolerance’ closer to reality. Current approaches to error correction involve encoding the quantum information of one qubit into several entangled qubits (called a “logical” qubit). Most of the encoding schemes (called a “code”) in use today are relatively inefficient – they can only make one logical qubit out of a set of physical qubits. As we mentioned earlier, we want lots of error corrected qubits in our machines, so this is highly suboptimal – a “low encoding rate” means that you need many, many more physical qubits to realize a machine with lots of error corrected logical qubits.

Ideally, our computers will have “high-rate” codes (meaning that you get more logical qubits per physical qubit), and researchers have identified promising schemes known as “non-local qLDPC codes”. This type of code has been discussed theoretically for years, but until now had never been realized in practice. In a new paper on the arXiv, the joint team has implemented a high rate non-local qLDPC code on our H2 quantum processor, with impressive results. 

The team used the code to create 4 error protected (logical) qubits, then entangled them in a “GHZ state” with better fidelity than doing the same operation on physical qubits – meaning that the error protection code improved fidelity in a difficult entangling operation. The team chose to encode a GHZ state because it is widely used as a system-level benchmark, and its better-than-physical logical preparation marks a highly mature system.

It is worth noting that this remarkable accomplishment was achieved with a very small team, half of whom do not have specialized knowledge about the underlying physics of our processors. Our hardware and software stack are now so mature that advances can be achieved by “quantum programmers” who don’t need advanced quantum hardware knowledge, and who can run their programs on a commercial machine between commercial jobs. This places us bounds ahead of the competition in terms of accessibility and reliability.

This paper marks the first time anyone has entangled 4 logical qubits with better fidelity than the physical analog. This work is in strong synergy with our recent announcement in partnership with Microsoft, where we demonstrated logical fidelities better than physical fidelities on entangled bell pairs and demonstrated multiple rounds of error correction.  These results with two different codes underscore how we are moving into the era of fault-tolerance ahead of the competition.

The code used in this paper is significantly more optimized for architectures capable of moving the qubits around, like ours. In practice, this means that we are capable of “non-local” gates and reconfigurability. A big advantage in particular is that some of the critical operations amount to a simple relabeling of the individual qubits, which is virtually error-free.

The biggest advantage, however, is in this code’s very high encoding rate. Unlike many codes in use today, this code offers a very high rate of logical qubits per physical qubit – in fact, the number of logical qubits is proportional to the number of physical qubits, which will allow our machines to scale much more quickly than more traditional codes that have a hard limit on the number of logical qubits one can get in each code block. This is yet another proof point that our machines will scale effectively and quickly.

Kaniah Konkoly-Thege

Kaniah is Chief Legal Counsel and SVP of Government Relations for Quantinuum. In her previous role, she served as General Counsel, Honeywell Quantum Solutions. Prior to Honeywell, she was General Counsel, Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies, LLC, and Senior Attorney, U.S. Department of Energy. She was Lead Counsel before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, the Merit Systems Protection Board, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Kaniah holds a J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law and B.A., International Relations and Spanish from the College of William and Mary.

Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller is Chief Information Officer for Quantinuum. In his previous role, he served as CIO for Honeywell Quantum Solutions and led a cross-functional team responsible for Information Technology, Cybersecurity, and Physical Security. For Honeywell, Jeff has held numerous management and executive roles in Information Technology, Security, Integrated Supply Chain and Program Management. Jeff holds a B.S., Computer Science, University of Arizona. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, attaining the rank of Commander.

Matthew Bohne

Matthew Bohne is the Vice President & Chief Product Security Officer for Honeywell Corporation. He is a passionate cybersecurity leader and executive with a proven track record of building and leading cybersecurity organizations securing energy, industrial, buildings, nuclear, pharmaceutical, and consumer sectors. He is a sought-after expert with deep experience in DevSecOps, critical infrastructure, software engineering, secure SDLC, supply chain security, privacy, and risk management.

Todd Moore

Todd Moore is the Global Vice President of Data Encryption Products at Thales. He is responsible for setting the business line and go to market strategies for an industry leading cybersecurity business. He routinely helps enterprises build solutions for a wide range of complex data security problems and use cases. Todd holds several management and technical degrees from the University of Virginia, Rochester Institute of Technology, Cornell University and Ithaca College. He is active in his community, loves to travel and spends much of his free time supporting his family in pursuing their various passions.

John Davis

Retired U.S. Army Major General John Davis is the Vice President, Public Sector for Palo Alto Networks, where he is responsible for expanding cybersecurity initiatives and global policy for the international public sector and assisting governments around the world to prevent successful cyber breaches. Prior to joining Palo Alto Networks, John served as the Senior Military Advisor for Cyber to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and served as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy.  Prior to this assignment, he served in multiple leadership positions in special operations, cyber, and information operations.