Using QAT Assumptions and restrictions

QAT: Goals, assumptions and limitations


QAT primary purpose is to manipulate and validate QIR via a command-line interface. Concretely, QAT aims at performing following tasks:

  • Simplifying logic
  • Transforming logic
  • Adding debugging using LLVM IRs as the source
  • Validating the logic compatibility with a specific profile

One of the biggest strength of the LLVM infrastructure is the large amount of optimizations available. For instance, the LLVM optimization tool opt allows constant folding, unrolling of loops, inlining of functions and branch elimination amongst others. These optimizations are useful in order to simplify complicated programs to something that can be ran on processors with a limited classical instruction set.

Transforming logic involves transforming qubit allocations into static allocations, separating logic and removing unwanted logic. In case of qubit allocations, the generic method to acquire a qubit resource is through __quantum__rt__qubit_allocate and release again through __quantum__rt__qubit_release. Such runtime functions are not currently supported by available hardware. More generally, available hardware does not have support for any runtime functions which makes it inadequate way to express quantum programs. While we expect that runtime libraries will become increasingly available as the industry develops, it is an immediate need to eliminate these from the QIR. QAT is capable of solving this problem in a multitude of ways. In case of __quantum__rt__qubit_allocate, QAT has a pass which allows to replace these with static qubit numbers under certain conditions. Another example of a QAT transformation is the ability to separate classical driver logic from the quantum programs in mixed quantum-classical programs.

The third goal of QAT is to allow QIRs to be annotate with debug information based on an input LLVM IR as the source file. The intend is to provide functionality to help developers to debug at an IR level by incorporating means to annotating debug information referring to the .ll file. This functionality complements existing debug information and can, optionally, override it if needed.

The fourth goal of QAT is to validate whether or not a QIR is compliant with the capabilities of a specific quantum system. This is done through profiles which are configurations describing allowing types, instructions, functions and modes of operating.

Assumptions & limitations

In the following subsections we will outline some of the assumptions and limitations of the current implementation of algorithms addressing the previous listed tasks. This document does not discuss the assumptions and limitations of experimental features such as recursion unfolding, but limits itself to what we consider stable in the latest release.

Simplifying logic through LLVM passes

For logic simplification, it is an assumption that the passes used will not perform any transformation causing unsupported instructions. This is a strong assumption as LLVM, for instance, may attempt to vectorize loops thereby making use of vector registers and corresponding instructions. To mitigate this, we have limit the LLVM passes available to a handful and parametrized the configuration of them. This serves to increase reproducibility across platforms as well as to provide control over the pass behaviour. However, it does not provide a strict guarantee that these types of transformations will not occur. We therefore rely on the validation functionality to ensure that the final program is compliant with the targeted architecture.

Transforming abstractions

Transformations to replace dynamic qubit allocation with static qubit allocation relies on a strong assumption that no subcircuit rely on recursion. The core issue that gives rise to this assumption is that it is not possible to replace a dynamic qubit allocation with a static one inside a program unless there is strict guarantees that 1) the function does not call itself and 2) that the acquisition time of the qubit is restricted to the life time of the function scope.

Transformations that remove reference counting relies on an assumption that all arrays and other ADTs are successfully removed. This assumption may not be true and would under normal circumstances be caught be the validation step assuming an appropriate profile is used.

Transformations that remove strings, assumes that strings and functions consuming or producing strings can be treated as "debug" statements which has no other side effect than to output the string content to the screen. Such an assumption may not hold true for frontends that uses dictionaries with strings as key for instance.

Annotating QIR with Debug information

A core assumption related to annotating the QIR with debug information is that the human readable version of the IR (the .ll-file) is the source of truth and can be referred to by line and column numbers rather than the bitcode. This assumption may not hold true as the different versions of LLVM may produce different .ll files which are not necessarily compatible with one and another. Therefore, if the bitcode file is used as input in a cloud service, the referred to line and column numbers may differ from those produced locally.

Logic separation

The logic separation functionality assumes that instructions belonging to the primary (CPU) and secondary (QPU) processing units can be distinguished solely by its operation signatures. That is, void function calls which only takes Qubit* and Result* as arguments are pure quantum instructions whereas function calls that returns classical entities (such as i8, i64 etc.) but take Qubit* and Result* as arguments are read out functions. This puts a natural limit to what can be executed on the QPU since this approach does not allow it for any classical instruction to make its way to the QPU.

Another assumption is that QPU is performing a single run with multiple quantum programs to be loaded and executed. Subsequently, it is the assumption that the machine stays coherent throughout the full program execution which is not necessarily the case.