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Decoding surface codes with deep reinforcement learning and probabilistic policy reuse

by   Elisha Siddiqui Matekole, et al.

Quantum computing (QC) promises significant advantages on certain hard computational tasks over classical computers. However, current quantum hardware, also known as noisy intermediate-scale quantum computers (NISQ), are still unable to carry out computations faithfully mainly because of the lack of quantum error correction (QEC) capability. A significant amount of theoretical studies have provided various types of QEC codes; one of the notable topological codes is the surface code, and its features, such as the requirement of only nearest-neighboring two-qubit control gates and a large error threshold, make it a leading candidate for scalable quantum computation. Recent developments of machine learning (ML)-based techniques especially the reinforcement learning (RL) methods have been applied to the decoding problem and have already made certain progress. Nevertheless, the device noise pattern may change over time, making trained decoder models ineffective. In this paper, we propose a continual reinforcement learning method to address these decoding challenges. Specifically, we implement double deep Q-learning with probabilistic policy reuse (DDQN-PPR) model to learn surface code decoding strategies for quantum environments with varying noise patterns. Through numerical simulations, we show that the proposed DDQN-PPR model can significantly reduce the computational complexity. Moreover, increasing the number of trained policies can further improve the agent's performance. Our results open a way to build more capable RL agents which can leverage previously gained knowledge to tackle QEC challenges.


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