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Nature. 2016 Apr 14;532(7598):210-3. doi: 10.1038/nature17620.

Exploring the quantum speed limit with computer games.

Author information

1
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

Abstract

Humans routinely solve problems of immense computational complexity by intuitively forming simple, low-dimensional heuristic strategies. Citizen science (or crowd sourcing) is a way of exploiting this ability by presenting scientific research problems to non-experts. 'Gamification'--the application of game elements in a non-game context--is an effective tool with which to enable citizen scientists to provide solutions to research problems. The citizen science games Foldit, EteRNA and EyeWire have been used successfully to study protein and RNA folding and neuron mapping, but so far gamification has not been applied to problems in quantum physics. Here we report on Quantum Moves, an online platform gamifying optimization problems in quantum physics. We show that human players are able to find solutions to difficult problems associated with the task of quantum computing. Players succeed where purely numerical optimization fails, and analyses of their solutions provide insights into the problem of optimization of a more profound and general nature. Using player strategies, we have thus developed a few-parameter heuristic optimization method that efficiently outperforms the most prominent established numerical methods. The numerical complexity associated with time-optimal solutions increases for shorter process durations. To understand this better, we produced a low-dimensional rendering of the optimization landscape. This rendering reveals why traditional optimization methods fail near the quantum speed limit (that is, the shortest process duration with perfect fidelity). Combined analyses of optimization landscapes and heuristic solution strategies may benefit wider classes of optimization problems in quantum physics and beyond.

PMID:
27075097
DOI:
10.1038/nature17620
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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