Faster quantum mixing for slowly evolving sequences of Markov chains

Davide Orsucci1, Hans J. Briegel1,2, and Vedran Dunjko1,3,4

1Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of Innsbruck, Technikerstraße 21a, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
2Department of Philosophy, University of Konstanz, Fach 17, 78457 Konstanz, Germany
3Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik, Hans-Kopfermann-Str. 1, 85748 Garching, Germany
4LIACS, Leiden University, Niels Bohrweg 1, 2333 CA Leiden, The Netherlands

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Markov chain methods are remarkably successful in computational physics, machine learning, and combinatorial optimization. The cost of such methods often reduces to the mixing time, i.e., the time required to reach the steady state of the Markov chain, which scales as $δ^{-1}$, the inverse of the spectral gap. It has long been conjectured that quantum computers offer nearly generic quadratic improvements for mixing problems. However, except in special cases, quantum algorithms achieve a run-time of $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{δ^{-1}} \sqrt{N})$, which introduces a costly dependence on the Markov chain size $N,$ not present in the classical case. Here, we re-address the problem of mixing of Markov chains when these form a slowly evolving sequence. This setting is akin to the simulated annealing setting and is commonly encountered in physics, material sciences and machine learning. We provide a quantum memory-efficient algorithm with a run-time of $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{δ^{-1}} \sqrt[4]{N})$, neglecting logarithmic terms, which is an important improvement for large state spaces. Moreover, our algorithms output quantum encodings of distributions, which has advantages over classical outputs. Finally, we discuss the run-time bounds of mixing algorithms and show that, under certain assumptions, our algorithms are optimal.

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