__Adaptive, problem-tailored variational quantum eigensolver mitigates rough parameter landscapes and barren plateaus__

**Published: **March 1, 2023 (npj Quantum Information)

**Authors:**
*Harper R. Grimsley,
Samantha V. Barron,
Edwin Barnes,
Sophia E. Economou,
Nicholas J. Mayhall,*

**Abstract:**

Variational quantum eigensolvers (VQEs) represent a powerful class of hybrid quantum-classical algorithms for computing molecular energies. Various numerical issues exist for these methods, however, including barren plateaus and large numbers of local minima. In this work, we consider the Adaptive, Problem-Tailored Variational Quantum Eiegensolver (ADAPT-VQE) ansätze, and examine how they are impacted by these local minima. We find that while ADAPT-VQE does not remove local minima, the gradient-informed, one-operator-at-a-time circuit construction accomplishes two things: First, it provides an initialization strategy that can yield solutions with over an order of magnitude smaller error compared to random initialization, and which is applicable in situations where chemical intuition cannot help with initialization, i.e., when Hartree-Fock is a poor approximation to the ground state. Second, even if an ADAPT-VQE iteration converges to a local trap at one step, it can still “burrow” toward the exact solution by adding more operators, which preferentially deepens the occupied trap. This same mechanism helps highlight a surprising feature of ADAPT-VQE: It should not suffer optimization problems due to barren plateaus and random initialization. Even if such barren plateaus appear in the parameter landscape, our analysis suggests that ADAPT-VQE avoids such regions by design.

**Tags:**