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Qiang Miao, Thomas Barthel (Feb 13 2024).

Abstract: The optimization of quantum circuits can be hampered by a decay of average gradient amplitudes with the system size. When the decay is exponential, this is called the barren plateau problem. Considering explicit circuit parametrizations (in terms of rotation angles), it has been shown in Arrasmith et al., Quantum Sci. Technol. 7, 045015 (2022) that barren plateaus are equivalent to an exponential decay of the cost-function variance. We show that the issue becomes particularly simple in the (parametrization-free) Riemannian formulation of such optimization problems. An elementary derivation shows that the single-gate variance of the cost function is strictly equal to half the variance of the Riemannian single-gate gradient, where we sample variable gates according to the uniform Haar measure. The total variances of the cost function and its gradient are both bounded from above by the sum of single-gate variances and, conversely, bound single-gate variances from above. So, decays of gradients and cost-function variations go hand in hand, and barren plateau problems cannot be resolved by avoiding gradient-based in favor of gradient-free optimization methods.

Arxiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/2402.07883