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FSU Researchers Report Enhanced Quantum Machine Learning Algorithms

Florida State University researchers report they have found a way to automatically infer parameters used in an important quantum Boltzmann machine algorithm for machine learning applications. The work could help build artificial neural networks used for training computers to solve complicated, interconnected problems, such as image recognition, drug discovery and the creation of new materials.

The findings of Professor William Oates, the Cummins Inc. Professor in Mechanical Engineering and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, and postdoctoral researcher Guanglei Xu were published in Scientific Reports.

“There’s a belief that quantum computing, as it comes online and grows in computational power, can provide you with some new tools, but figuring out how to program it and how to apply it in certain applications is a big question,” said Oates.

Quantum bits, unlike binary bits in a standard computer, can exist in more than one state at a time, a concept known as superposition. Measuring the state of a quantum bit — or qubit — causes it to lose that special state, so quantum computers work by calculating the probability of a qubit’s state before it is observed.

Professor William Oates (source: FAMU-FSU College of Engineering/Mark Wallheisier)

Specialized quantum computers known as quantum annealers are one tool for doing this type of computing. They work by representing each state of a qubit as an energy level. The lowest energy state among its qubits gives the solution to a problem. The result is a machine that could handle complicated, interconnected systems that would take a regular computer a very long time to calculate — like building a neural network.

One way to build neural networks is by using a restricted Boltzmann machine, an algorithm that uses probability to learn based on inputs given to the network. Oates and Xu found a way to automatically calculate an important parameter associated with effective temperature that is used in that algorithm. Restricted Boltzmann machines typically guess at that parameter instead, which requires testing to confirm and can change whenever the computer is asked to investigate a new problem.

“That parameter in the model replicates what the quantum annealer is doing,” Oates said. “If you can accurately estimate it, you can train your neural network more effectively and use it for predicting things.”

This research was supported by Cummins Inc. and used resources of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, which is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

source: Florida State University News

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