In recent years substantial research effort has been devoted to quantum algorithms for ground state energy estimation (GSEE) in chemistry and materials.
Given the many heuristic and non-heuristic methods being developed, it is challenging to assess what combination of these will ultimately be used in practice.
One important metric for assessing utility is runtime. For most GSEE algorithms, the runtime depends on the ground state preparation (GSP) method. %used to approximate the ground state. Towards assessing the utility of various combinations of GSEE and GSP methods, we asked under which conditions a GSP method should be accepted over a reference method, such as the Hartree-Fock state. We introduce a criteria for accepting or rejecting a GSP method for the purposes of GSEE. We consider different GSP methods ranging from heuristics to algorithms with provable performance guarantees and perform numerical simulations to benchmark their performance on different chemical systems, starting from small molecules like the hydrogen atom to larger systems like the jellium. In the future this approach may be used to abandon certain VQE ansatzes and other heursitics. Yet so far our findings do not provide evidence against the use of VQE and more expensive heuristic methods, like the low-depth booster. This work sets a foundation from which to further explore the requirements to achieve quantum advantage in quantum chemistry.