Anagyros Papageorgiou, Joseph Traub

Paper #: 07-12-042

Most continuous mathematical formulations arising in science and engineering can only be solved numerically and therefore approximately. We shall always assume that we're dealing with a numerical approximation to the solution. There are two major motivations for studying quantum algorithms and complexity for continuous problems. 1. Are quantum computers more powerful than classical computers for important scientific problems? How much more powerful? 2. Many important scientific and engineering problems have continuous formulations. These problems occur in fields such as physics, chemistry, engineering and finance. The continuous formulations include path integration, partial differential equations (in particular, the Schrodinger equation) and continuous optimization. To answer the first question we must know the classical computational complexity (for brevity, complexity) of the problem. There have been decades of research on the classical complexity of continuous problems in the field of information-based complexity. The reason we know the complexity of many continuous problems is that we can use adversary arguments to obtain their query complexity. This may be contrasted with the classical complexity of discrete problems where we have only conjectures such as $\mbox{P}\ne\mbox{NP}$. Even the classical complexity of the factorization of large integers is unknown. Knowing the classical complexity of a continuous problem we obtain the quantum computation speedup if we know the quantum complexity. If we know an upper bound on the quantum complexity through the cost of a particular quantum algorithm then we can obtain a lower bound on the quantum speedup. Regarding the second motivation, in this article we'll report on high-dimensional integration, path integration, Feynman path integration, the smallest eigenvalue of a differential equation, approximation, partial differential equations, ordinary differential equations and gradient estimation. We'll also briefly report on the simulation of quantum systems on a quantum computer.