Zapata Computing Publishes New Research on Ground State Properties Estimation for Computing Chemical and Materials Properties

With provable performance guarantees, Zapata’s method reveals a path for creating industry value on early fault-tolerant quantum computers

Boston, MA – September 30, 2021 – Zapata Computing, Inc., a leading enterprise software company for quantum solutions, today announced new research on ground state property estimation (GSPE) with major implications for the chemical and materials industries. In a just-published paper, “Computing Ground State Properties with Early Fault-Tolerant Quantum Computers,” Zapata researchers demonstrated how early fault-tolerant quantum computers (FTQCs) could be used to compute chemical and materials properties to an extent not currently possible with even the most powerful classical computing resources.

The company’s breakthrough approach provides a reliable route to achieving quantum advantage for the design of materials and molecules using quantum computers expected to be available in the next five to ten years. Accurate computation of ground state properties such as electric dipole moments, electron transport, and molecular forces is required for predicting industry-relevant physical properties.

In the paper, the Zapata team describes the algorithm they developed in detail, provides proof of its performance guarantees, and outlines several concrete applications of the technique.

“It is easy to believe that to calculate ground state properties you have to first prepare the ground state somehow. But this work pursues a unique avenue of thinking that allows us to estimate ground state properties without necessarily preparing the ground state,” said Yudong Cao, co-founder and CTO at Zapata. “Similar techniques will also allow us to extract other more valuable physical properties of a quantum system beyond just the ground state.”

Previously, there was no known way to use a near-term quantum computer to reliably compute many useful properties of quantum materials or molecules. Existing methods were either not reliable or not possible with a near-term quantum computer. The Zapata paper proposes a reliable, near-term method for computing useful properties.

“Our aim with this work was to design a quantum algorithm, which meets two essential needs: it targets applications of commercial value and is designed for the devices, which we believe will be powerful enough to outperform state-of-the-art classical methods,” added Peter Johnson, Zapata’s co-founder and lead research scientist.

Aram Harrow, Professor of Physics at MIT and Zapata Scientific Advisory Board member, added: “The most important application of FTQC so far seems to be estimating properties of molecules and quantum materials using quantum simulation. This sits at the sweet spot of exponential quantum speedup and major economic and scientific significance. The current paper significantly improves the efficiency of algorithms for this application in a way that brings them much closer to feasibility. While scalable FTQC still requires significant hardware progress, works like this are important for understanding the resource requirements of these future machines.”