Sketching phase diagrams using low-depth variational quantum algorithms
Mapping out phase diagrams of quantum systems using classical simulations can be challenging or intractable due to the computational resources required to simulate even small quantum systems far away from the thermodynamic limit. We investigate using quantum computers and the Variational Quantum Eigensolver (VQE) for this task. In contrast to the task of preparing the exact ground state using VQE, sketching phase diagrams might require less quantum resources and accuracy, because low fidelity approximations to the ground state may be enough to correctly identify different phases. We used classical numerical simulations of low-depth VQE circuits to compute order parameters for four well-studied spin and fermion models which represent a mix of 1D and 2D, and exactly-solvable and classically hard systems. We find that it is possible to predict the location of phase transitions up to reasonable accuracy using states produced by VQE even when their overlap with the true ground state is small. Further, we introduce a model-agnostic predictor of phase transitions based on the speed with which the VQE energy improves with respect to the circuit depth, and find that in some cases this is also able to predict phase transitions.