A scalable and fast artificial neural network syndrome decoder for surface codes

by   Spiro Gicev, et al.

Surface code error correction offers a highly promising pathway to achieve scalable fault-tolerant quantum computing. When operated as stabilizer codes, surface code computations consist of a syndrome decoding step where measured stabilizer operators are used to determine appropriate corrections for errors in physical qubits. Decoding algorithms have undergone substantial development, with recent work incorporating machine learning (ML) techniques. Despite promising initial results, the ML-based syndrome decoders are still limited to small scale demonstrations with low latency and are incapable of handling surface codes with boundary conditions and various shapes needed for lattice surgery and braiding. Here, we report the development of an artificial neural network (ANN) based scalable and fast syndrome decoder capable of decoding surface codes of arbitrary shape and size with data qubits suffering from the depolarizing error model. Based on rigorous training over 50 million random quantum error instances, our ANN decoder is shown to work with code distances exceeding 1000 (more than 4 million physical qubits), which is the largest ML-based decoder demonstration to-date. The established ANN decoder demonstrates an execution time in principle independent of code distance, implying that its implementation on dedicated hardware could potentially offer surface code decoding times of O(μsec), commensurate with the experimentally realisable qubit coherence times. With the anticipated scale-up of quantum processors within the next decade, their augmentation with a fast and scalable syndrome decoder such as developed in our work is expected to play a decisive role towards experimental implementation of fault-tolerant quantum information processing.


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