Software Platforms for Quantum Experiments

PI: Oskar Painter (Divisions of Engineering and Applied Sciences (EAS) and Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy (PMA))
SASE: Alex Hadley, Scholar

Quantum information science has recently become one of the most highlighted directions in the field of physical science. Research in quantum information is not limited to fundamental problems in quantum many-body physics and quantum chemistry but also includes industry-fueled efforts to build a practical quantum computer, which is anticipated to solve problems that are prohibitively hard to tackle with classical computers. With successful demonstration of quantum supremacy by Google, large-scale quantum experiments are being conducted in a variety of physical platforms such as superconducting circuits, trapped ions, neutral atoms, and quantum dots.

Software development for quantum experiments to date has mostly been concentrated on building libraries of instrument drivers and writing scripts for controlling multiple instruments synchronously. While this strategy is effective when the size of the system is small, state-of-the-art large-scale quantum experiments involving tens to hundreds of quantum bits (qubits) will require new approaches. First, with a larger number of simultaneously utilized resources and more incoming data during an experiment, software latency must be carefully considered. Second, it is crucial to run experiments with complicated dependency structures between multiple sub-experiments. For example, determination of experimental parameters for implementing a quantum gate operation requires other calibration experiments, such as extracting the frequency of qubits, which itself depends on qubit readout. Finally, a scalable structure for managing and logging experimental configurations and measurement results, which will grow rapidly with system size, must be conceived.

In Oskar Painter’s group at Caltech, experiments involving 10 superconducting qubits are underway, and the size of the system is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years. The Schmidt Academy Scholar is working with the Painter Lab to develop a software platform for interactive visualization, analysis, and logging of data from quantum experiments. A future goal is to create an interactive experiment management platform for running graph-based calibration and experimental routines. Systematic software development in this direction will enhance the efficiency of performing sophisticated large-scale experiments in academic labs and industry, and resulting open-source packages will contribute significantly to advancing progress in the field.


Superconducting metamaterial waveguide (photo by Mohammad Mirhosseini)