Supervised quantum machine learning models are kernel methods

26 Jan 2021  ·  Maria Schuld ·

With near-term quantum devices available and the race for fault-tolerant quantum computers in full swing, researchers became interested in the question of what happens if we replace a supervised machine learning model with a quantum circuit. While such "quantum models" are sometimes called "quantum neural networks", it has been repeatedly noted that their mathematical structure is actually much more closely related to kernel methods: they analyse data in high-dimensional Hilbert spaces to which we only have access through inner products revealed by measurements. This technical manuscript summarises and extends the idea of systematically rephrasing supervised quantum models as a kernel method. With this, a lot of near-term and fault-tolerant quantum models can be replaced by a general support vector machine whose kernel computes distances between data-encoding quantum states. Kernel-based training is then guaranteed to find better or equally good quantum models than variational circuit training. Overall, the kernel perspective of quantum machine learning tells us that the way that data is encoded into quantum states is the main ingredient that can potentially set quantum models apart from classical machine learning models.

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