When does reinforcement learning stand out in quantum control? A comparative study on state preparation

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Original languageEnglish
Article number85
Journal / Publicationnpj Quantum Information
Online published8 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019



Reinforcement learning has been widely used in many problems, including quantum control of qubits. However, such problems can, at the same time, be solved by traditional, non-machine-learning methods, such as stochastic gradient descent and Krotov algorithms, and it remains unclear which one is most suitable when the control has specific constraints. In this work, we perform a comparative study on the efficacy of three reinforcement learning algorithms: tabular Q-learning, deep Q-learning, and policy gradient, as well as two non-machine-learning methods: stochastic gradient descent and Krotov algorithms, in the problem of preparing a desired quantum state. We found that overall, the deep Q-learning and policy gradient algorithms outperform others when the problem is discretized, e.g. allowing discrete values of control, and when the problem scales up. The reinforcement learning algorithms can also adaptively reduce the complexity of the control sequences, shortening the operation time and improving the fidelity. Our comparison provides insights into the suitability of reinforcement learning in quantum control problems.

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