Perceval: A Software Platform for Discrete Variable Photonic Quantum Computing

Nicolas Heurtel1,2, Andreas Fyrillas1,3, Grégoire de Gliniasty1, Raphaël Le Bihan1, Sébastien Malherbe4, Marceau Pailhas1, Eric Bertasi1, Boris Bourdoncle1, Pierre-Emmanuel Emeriau1, Rawad Mezher1, Luka Music1, Nadia Belabas3, Benoît Valiron2, Pascale Senellart3, Shane Mansfield1, and Jean Senellart1

1Quandela, 7 Rue Léonard de Vinci, 91300 Massy, France
2Université Paris-Saclay, Inria, CNRS, ENS Paris-Saclay, CentraleSupélec, LMF, 91190, 15 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
3Centre for Nanosciences and Nanotechnology, CNRS, Université Paris-Saclay, UMR 9001, 10 Boulevard Thomas Gobert, 91120, Palaiseau, France
4Département de Physique de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure - PSL, 45 rue d’Ulm, 75230, Paris Cedex 05, France

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We introduce $Perceval$, an open-source software platform for simulating and interfacing with discrete-variable photonic quantum computers, and describe its main features and components. Its Python front-end allows photonic circuits to be composed from basic photonic building blocks like photon sources, beam splitters, phase-shifters and detectors. A variety of computational back-ends are available and optimised for different use-cases. These use state-of-the-art simulation techniques covering both weak simulation, or sampling, and strong simulation. We give examples of $Perceval$ in action by reproducing a variety of photonic experiments and simulating photonic implementations of a range of quantum algorithms, from Grover's and Shor's to examples of quantum machine learning. $Perceval$ is intended to be a useful toolkit for experimentalists wishing to easily model, design, simulate, or optimise a discrete-variable photonic experiment, for theoreticians wishing to design algorithms and applications for discrete-variable photonic quantum computing platforms, and for application designers wishing to evaluate algorithms on available state-of-the-art photonic quantum computers.

We are used to inhabiting a world full of light, and photons are the individual quanta, or particles, that light is made up of. However, when we are able to manipulate light at the level of individual photons, we can begin to observe interesting quantum effects. Moreover, by encoding information in the photons and making them interact, we are able to process information in ways that harness these effects to perform quantum computation.

Perceval is a software framework that allows users to define quantum processes and computations at the level of single photons. It also has connectors that allow hardware-agnostic code from other software frameworks for quantum computing to be translated to the photonic setting. Once a quantum computation has been defined it can be run on a variety of ways. In particular it can be delegated to a real photonic quantum processor.

Computations can also be run on any of Perceval's highly-optimised simulation backends, which essentially allow classical computers to simulate the behaviour of a quantum processor. Although classical simulation will not be possible indefinitely as quantum hardware scales up, it is an important intermediate that unlocks barriers to quantum computing in the near-term, for educational purposes and for the design and testing of quantum algorithms and protocols.

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