Quantum algorithm for linear systems of equations

Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Oct 9;103(15):150502. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.150502. Epub 2009 Oct 7.


Solving linear systems of equations is a common problem that arises both on its own and as a subroutine in more complex problems: given a matrix A and a vector b(-->), find a vector x(-->) such that Ax(-->) = b(-->). We consider the case where one does not need to know the solution x(-->) itself, but rather an approximation of the expectation value of some operator associated with x(-->), e.g., x(-->)(dagger) Mx(-->) for some matrix M. In this case, when A is sparse, N x N and has condition number kappa, the fastest known classical algorithms can find x(-->) and estimate x(-->)(dagger) Mx(-->) in time scaling roughly as N square root(kappa). Here, we exhibit a quantum algorithm for estimating x(-->)(dagger) Mx(-->) whose runtime is a polynomial of log(N) and kappa. Indeed, for small values of kappa [i.e., poly log(N)], we prove (using some common complexity-theoretic assumptions) that any classical algorithm for this problem generically requires exponentially more time than our quantum algorithm.