Reachability Deficits in Quantum Approximate Optimization of Graph Problems

V. Akshay, H. Philathong, I. Zacharov, and J. Biamonte

Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, 3 Nobel Street, Moscow, Russia 121205

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The quantum approximate optimization algorithm (QAOA) has become a cornerstone of contemporary quantum applications development. Here we show that the $density$ of problem constraints versus problem variables acts as a performance indicator. Density is found to correlate strongly with approximation inefficiency for fixed depth QAOA applied to random graph minimization problem instances. Further, the required depth for accurate QAOA solution to graph problem instances scales critically with density. Motivated by Google's recent experimental realization of QAOA, we preform a reanalysis of the reported data reproduced in an ideal noiseless setting. We found that the reported capabilities of instances addressed experimentally by Google, approach a rapid fall-off region in approximation quality experienced beyond intermediate-density. Our findings offer new insight into performance analysis of contemporary quantum optimization algorithms and contradict recent speculation regarding low-depth QAOA performance benefits.

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