Some new science from users of the D-Wave One at USC ISI. Here’s the arxiv link. Here’s the abstract:
Quantum annealing is a general strategy for solving difficult optimization problems with the aid of quantum adiabatic evolution [1, 2]. Both analytical and numerical evidence suggests that under idealized, closed system conditions, quantum annealing can outperform classical thermalization-based algorithms such as simulated annealing [3, 4]. Do engineered quantum annealing devices effectively perform classical thermalization when coupled to a decohering thermal environment? To address this we establish, using superconducting flux qubits with programmable spin-spin couplings, an experimental signature which is consistent with quantum annealing, and at the same time inconsistent with classical thermalization, in spite of a decoherence timescale which is orders of magnitude shorter than the adiabatic evolution time. This suggests that programmable quantum devices, scalable with current superconducting technology, implement quantum annealing with a surprising robustness against noise and imperfections.