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Measurement-induced entanglement phase transitions in variational quantum circuits

Roeland Wiersema, Cunlu Zhou, Juan Felipe Carrasquilla, Yong Baek Kim

SciPost Phys. 14, 147 (2023) · published 8 June 2023


Variational quantum algorithms (VQAs), which classically optimize a parametrized quantum circuit to solve a computational task, promise to advance our understanding of quantum many-body systems and improve machine learning algorithms using near-term quantum computers. Prominent challenges associated with this family of quantum-classical hybrid algorithms are the control of quantum entanglement and quantum gradients linked to their classical optimization. Known as the barren plateau phenomenon, these quantum gradients may rapidly vanish in the presence of volume-law entanglement growth, which poses a serious obstacle to the practical utility of VQAs. Inspired by recent studies of measurement-induced entanglement transition in random circuits, we investigate the entanglement transition in variational quantum circuits endowed with intermediate projective measurements. Considering the Hamiltonian Variational Ansatz (HVA) for the XXZ model and the Hardware Efficient Ansatz (HEA), we observe a measurement-induced entanglement transition from volume-law to area-law with increasing measurement rate. Moreover, we provide evidence that the transition belongs to the same universality class of random unitary circuits. Importantly, the transition coincides with a “landscape transition” from severe to mild/no barren plateaus in the classical optimization. Our work may provide an avenue for improving the trainability of quantum circuits by incorporating intermediate measurement protocols in currently available quantum hardware.

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