Towards a SAT Encoding for Quantum Circuits

A Journey From Classical Circuits to Clifford Circuits and Beyond


Boolean Satisfiability (SAT) techniques are well-established in classical computing where they are used to solve a broad variety of problems, e.g., in the design of classical circuits and systems. Analogous to the classical realm, quantum algorithms are usually modelled as circuits and similar design tasks need to be tackled. Thus, it is natural to pose the question whether these design tasks in the quantum realm can also be approached using SAT techniques. To the best of our knowledge, no SAT formulation for arbitrary quantum circuits exists and it is unknown whether such an approach is feasible at all. In this work, we define a propositional SAT encoding that, in principle, can be applied to arbitrary quantum circuits. However, we show that, due to the inherent complexity of representing quantum states, constructing such an encoding is not feasible in general. Therefore, we establish general criteria for determining the feasibility of the proposed encoding and identify classes of quantum circuits fulfilling these criteria. We explicitly demonstrate how the proposed encoding can be applied to the class of Clifford circuits as a representative. Finally, we empirically demonstrate the applicability and efficiency of the proposed encoding for Clifford circuits. With these results, we lay the foundation for continuing the ongoing success of SAT in classical circuit and systems design for quantum circuits.

In International Conference on Theory and Applications of Satisfiability Testing
Lukas Burgholzer
Lukas Burgholzer
PhD Student

My research interests include design automation for quantum computing, decision diagrams, and in particular equivalence checking of quantum circuits