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Sci Rep. 2018 May 2;8(1):6919. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-25206-0.

An approach to quantum-computational hydrologic inverse analysis.

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Computational Earth Science Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, 87507, USA.


Making predictions about flow and transport in an aquifer requires knowledge of the heterogeneous properties of the aquifer such as permeability. Computational methods for inverse analysis are commonly used to infer these properties from quantities that are more readily observable such as hydraulic head. We present a method for computational inverse analysis that utilizes a type of quantum computer called a quantum annealer. While quantum computing is in an early stage compared to classical computing, we demonstrate that it is sufficiently developed that it can be used to solve certain subsurface flow problems. We utilize a D-Wave 2X quantum annealer to solve 1D and 2D hydrologic inverse problems that, while small by modern standards, are similar in size and sometimes larger than hydrologic inverse problems that were solved with early classical computers. Our results and the rapid progress being made with quantum computing hardware indicate that the era of quantum-computational hydrology may not be too far in the future.

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