High-school student part of FRIB-affiliated research group with published research paper

12 August 2021

The FRIB-affiliated Lee Research Group authored a research paper (“Rodeo Algorithm for Quantum Computing”) that was recently published in Physical Review Letters. The members of the group who carried out the research are Zhengrong Qian, an MSU undergraduate student, Joey Bonitati and Jacob Watkins, PhD students at MSU, and Kenneth Choi, a recent graduate of Ridgefield High School in Ridgefield, Connecticut, who will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

While still in high school, Choi remotely gained first-hand experience at the FRIB Laboratory last year as part of the Research Science Institute (RSI), a summer program run by the Center for Excellence in Education. Through RSI, students take part in intensive classes and are then paired with research mentors for five-week research internships. The program is usually hosted at MIT. However, due to the COVID restrictions, the 2020 RSI program was held online. Choi did his RSI research internship remotely at FRIB under the supervision of Dean Lee, a professor of physics at FRIB.

“Over the past year, Dr. Lee has helped me develop research skills and has inspired me to continue pursuing computer science,” said Choi. “It has been an immense honor to work with Dr. Lee and his research group.”

“Kenneth is a wonderfully gifted student with a very bright future ahead,” said Lee. “It has been an absolute joy to work with him.”

In the paper, the authors present a stochastic quantum computing algorithm that can “prepare” any energy state of a quantum system. The preparation process involves initializing the quantum device in some simple state and then applying quantum gates and measurements. The rodeo algorithm operates by shaking off undesired quantum states until only the state with the wanted energy remains. It can be used to determine the full energy spectrum of a quantum Hamiltonian as well as prepare any specific energy state.

The rodeo algorithm is an efficient method that requires only a bare minimum of resources, and small quantum systems can already be implemented on quantum devices currently available. For quantum state preparation, the rodeo algorithm is exponentially faster than other well-known quantum algorithms such as adiabatic evolution or phase estimation. This makes it a promising candidate for future calculations of quantum many-body systems in nuclear, particle, condensed matter, and atomic and molecular physics, and quantum chemistry.