# Postprocessing¶

Postprocessing optimization and sampling algorithms provide local improvements with minimal overhead to solutions obtained from the quantum processing unit (QPU).

Postprocessing for D-Wave 2000Q systems includes optimization and sampling algorithms; on Advantage systems, postprocessing is limited to computing the energies of returned samples. For Advantage systems, Ocean software provides postprocessing tools such as dwave-greedy as well as preprocessing tools.

This section provides an overview of some postprocessing methods available on D-Wave 2000Q systems, presents the results of a number of tests conducted by D-Wave, and describes the role of postprocessing in results obtained by the D-Wave 2000Q virtual full-yield chip (VFYC) solver.

## Types of Postprocessing¶

Solutions obtained from a D-Wave quantum processing unit (QPU) can be postprocessed to achieve higher quality.

When submitting a problem to a D-Wave 2000Q QPU, users choose from:

No postprocessing (default)

Optimization postprocessing

Sampling postprocessing

For optimization problems, the goal is to find the state vector with the lowest energy. For sampling problems, the goal is to produce samples from a specific probability distribution. In both cases, a logical graph structure is defined and embedded into the QPU’s Chimera topology. Postprocessing methods are applied to solutions defined on this logical graph structure.

The flow of integrated postprocessing is shown in Figure 106.

### Optimization Postprocessing¶

The goal of optimization postprocessing is to obtain a set of samples with lowest
energy on a graph \(G\). For simplicity of discussion, assume that \(G\)
is a logical graph. Pseudocode for optimization postprocessing is shown below.
The postprocessing method works by performing local updates to the state vector
\(S\) based on low treewidth graphs. Specifically, the *DecomposeGraph* function
uses a set of algorithms based on the minimum-degree [Mar1957] heuristic to
decompose graph \(G\) into several low treewidth subgraphs that cover the nodes
and edges of \(G\). The *SolveSubgraph* function is then used to update the
solution on each subgraph to obtain a locally optimal solution \(s'\).
*SolveSubgraph* is an exact solver for low treewidth graphs based on belief
propagation on junction trees [Jen1990].

### Sampling Postprocessing¶

In sampling mode, the goal of postprocessing is to obtain a set of samples that
correspond to a target Boltzmann distribution with inverse temperature \(\beta\)
defined on the logical graph \(G\). The pseudocode for sampling postprocessing
is shown below. As with optimization postprocessing, the graph \(G\) is decomposed
into low treewidth subgraphs \(G'\) that cover \(G\). On each subgraph,
the state variables \(S\) obtained from the QPU are then updated using the
*SampleSubgraph* function to match the exact Boltzmann distribution conditioned
on the states of the variables outside the subgraph. Users can set the number of
subgraph update iterations \(n\); the choice of \(\beta\) is also determined
by the user. Heuristically, this inverse temperature depends on model parameters
in the Hamiltonian. As a general rule, \(\beta\) should be set to a value
close to an inverse temperature corresponding to raw QPU samples. Some variation
from a classical Boltzmann distribution is expected in postprocessed samples.
See Sampling Tests and Results for discussion.

## Execution and Timing¶

The two main functions for the postprocessing algorithms are the low treewidth graph decomposition and the low treewidth graph solve. Graph decomposition takes place on the postprocessing server during the D-Wave 2000Q QPU access time for the previous problem, while the low treewidth solve is interwoven within the QPU duty cycle.

Figure 109 shows how a set of samples are batched and
sent through the postprocessing solver as the next batch is being computed by the
QPU. The total time spent postprocessing samples is provided in the timing structure
as *total_post_processing_time.* Since all but the last batch are processed during
the QPU duty cycle, the additional overhead time for postprocessing,
*post_processing_overhead_time,* corresponds to the time spent processing the
final batch.

For more details about the timing structure, see Operation and Timing.

## Optimization Tests and Results¶

This section describes a set of tests and results that examine the quality of results returned by the optimization postprocessor. The goal is to describe the difference between postprocessed solutions from those obtained solely via the QPU.

Postprocessing for optimization is evaluated by generating 10 random problems on a D-Wave QPU, each with \(J\) values drawn uniformly at random from \(\{1, -1\}\). Each problem is evaluated based on a set of scaling factors. Problems are scaled to exaggerate the negative effects of analog noise on solution quality, so the optimization postprocessor can demonstrate that it can recover a high-quality solution from the QPU solution. Specifically, with small scaling factors, it is difficult to faithfully represent problems in the QPU because of the exaggeration of analog noise. This noise causes the solver to return lower-quality solutions, and provides a nice mechanism to evaluate the optimization postprocessor.

For each problem and scaling factor, 1000 samples were drawn with postprocessing on and off. As seen in Figure 110 and Figure 111, postprocessing for optimization can improve solutions significantly. Furthermore, the worse the non-postprocessed solutions are, the more postprocessing helps.

## Sampling Tests and Results¶

This section describes tests conducted to examine the quality of results returned by the sampling postprocessor. The goal is to describe the difference between postprocessed samples from those obtained solely via the QPU. Postprocessing is considered here at two different temperatures: an ultra-cold temperature, and a measured local temperature [Ray2016].

The results show that the energy improves for cold temperature, but at the cost of diversity. For the local temperature, diversity of postprocessed samples improves without compromising the energy distribution. Measures such as false-positive rate and backbone, defined below, complement the typical energy/entropy statistics. The results show that the backbone and false-positive rates are improved by low-temperature postprocessing. Together, these studies provide a glimpse into the behavior of QPU and postprocessed samples.

### Methodology¶

The study considers a particular problem class: Not-All-Equal-3SAT (NAE3SAT), with 30 logical variables and a clause-to-variable ratio of 1.8. Each clause is a logical constraint on three variables, and the energy of a sample is linear in the number of clause violations.1 This class was chosen because a variety of meaningful metrics can be used to analyze the raw QPU samples and the postprocessed results [Dou2015]. The embedding of this problem was chosen using the standard routine [Cai2014], and chain strength for the embedding was chosen by a heuristic rule that gave close-to-optimal results in terms of the fraction of ground states seen without postprocessing.

Sample quality is evaluated with respect to a target Boltzmann distribution using two values of \(\beta\): an ultra-cold temperature corresponding to \(\beta=10\) and a local estimate corresponding to \(\beta=2.0\). The cold temperature was chosen to be (for practical purposes) indistinguishable from the limiting case \(\beta\rightarrow \infty\). In this limited postprocessing, samples can only decrease in energy. This is a useful limit when the objective is to obtain ground-state, or low-energy, samples. In the examples presented, a significant fraction of samples are ground states both in the raw QPU sample set and in the postprocessed sample set. The local temperature is chosen so that before and after postprocessing, the sample-set mean energy is approximately unchanged. The local temperature can be estimated accurately by an independent procedure that probes the average energy change as a function of \(\beta\) [Ray2016]. Postprocessing at this local temperature should produce more diverse samples (higher entropy distributions) without increasing the average energy. This should be observed in the sampling metrics.

Figure 112 through Figure 116 show sample quality before and after postprocessing with \(n=10\), for various sampling metrics. Each pair of plots shows results from postprocessing at low temperature \(\beta=10\) (left) and local temperature \(\beta=2\) (right). Each panel shows results from 100 random NAE3SAT instances generated on 30 variables with clause-to-variable ratio 1.8. For each input, 1000 samples were collected from 10 different spin-reversal transforms for a total of 10,000 samples. The default annealing time of \(20 \ \mu s\) was used for all samples, and the postprocessor was applied with \(n=10\) steps. QPU samples have undergone embedding and chain-correction, and the following analysis is performed entirely in the logical space. Depending on the test being performed, sometimes only a subset of the samples were used. For example, it is convenient to define some metrics with respect to ground states only, or randomly select pairs of solutions to examine. Standard errors, and estimator bias (where relevant), are evaluated with the jackknife method [Efr1982].

### Mean Energy¶

Figure 112 demonstrates the mean energy for solutions to the test problems compared before and after postprocessing. The mean energy is the expectation of the sample set energies; this estimator is unbiased and of small variance.

If you postprocess at low temperature, you hope to transform excited states into low-energy ones, so that you aim for a decrease in mean energy under postprocessing. In the cold case, shown on the left, the mean energy decreases dramatically after postprocessing, which is suggestive of successful postprocessing.

If you postprocess at some other temperature, your aim is to approach the mean energy of the Boltzmann distribution at \(\beta\). The local temperature here is chosen so that to a first approximation energy should be unchanged under postprocessing. However, a single value of \(\beta\) is chosen for all NAE3SAT problems, so some upward or downward fluctuation in mean energy is expected in any given problem. Figure 112 (right) shows that, despite some fluctuations between problem instances, the mean energies before and after are, in the typical case, strongly correlated. This suggests only that the approximation to \(\beta\) local was appropriate for this class.

### Entropy¶

Entropy is a measure of the size of the solution space. The aim of postprocessing at low temperature is to approach the ground-state entropy (a uniform distribution over ground states); in this process, the sample diversity is typically reduced. Successful postprocessing at the local \(\beta\) — chosen so that energy is approximately constant — leads to an increase in entropy. The Boltzmann distribution is the maximum entropy distribution for a given mean energy; therefore, if mean energy is unchanged, expect to see the largest value for entropy in the Boltzmann distribution.

The entropy for a distribution \(P(x)\) is defined as \(-\sum_x P(x)\log P(x)\), and can be estimated using samples drawn from \(P\). The Grassberger estimator [Gra2008] was used to measure the entropy from the sample sets. Figure 113 shows the relative entropy of the samples before and after postprocessing. At the cold temperature, the entropy decreases significantly, likely due to many of the excited states returned by the QPU being transformed into ground states. This also follows from the mean energy plot in Figure 112. At local \(\beta\), the entropy increases as one would expect. Low treewidth postprocessing allows the samples to diversify toward the maximum entropy distribution. This later choice of \(\beta\) allows a fair comparison of the two distributions since mean energy is controlled for; otherwise, entropy can always be improved by raising the mean energy of the distribution.

### KL Divergence¶

The Kullback–Leibler (KL) divergence is defined as \(\beta\) Energy \(-\) Entropy \(+ \log(Z(\beta))\), where \(Z(\beta)\) is a constant called the partition function. It is an important measure of distributional distance and is bounded below by zero. Postprocessing typically has a trade-off between mean energy and entropy. Distributions of high diversity (e.g., random samples) typically have higher energy; KL divergence is able to capture the trade-off between decreasing mean energy and increasing entropy. For any \(\beta\), as a distribution approaches the Boltzmann distribution, its KL divergence decreases toward zero. Postprocessing as undertaken here is guaranteed to decrease KL divergence. The more successful the postprocessing is, the larger the decrease, and the closer the postprocessed distribution is to zero.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of postprocessing, you need not know the constant \(\log(Z)\); present instead \(KLD' = (KLD-log(Z))/\beta\). Figure 114 shows a significant and consistent decrease in KL divergence for all cases. In the cold case, the improvement in KL divergence is largely due to decreases in the mean energy. For the local temperature postprocessing, the decrease is a result of increased sample diversity.

### Backbone¶

If you restrict attention to the subset of samples that are ground states, you can define the backbone as the set of all variables that are perfectly correlated. Since the problem is symmetric, it is most interesting to consider edge states rather than spin states; to consider the number of correlations among variable pairs that are perfect (either perfect alignment or antialignment). The measure is interesting only for problems with ground-state degeneracy, such as NAE3SAT.

Define the backbone over edge variables for a distribution \(P\) as

where \(E\) is the set of edges in the problem, \(x_i\) is the spin state of variable \(i\), and angled brackets indicate an average with respect to the distribution over ground states (for the energy function of interest). \(I()\) is an indicator function, evaluating to 1 when the argument is true. For a distribution that has nonzero probability to see all ground states, the backbone is equal to that of the Boltzmann distribution2. If the distribution covers only a subset of ground states, the backbone is larger than the Boltzmann distribution. In the special case that only a single ground state is observed, the maximum value (1) is obtained.

Estimate the backbone from a finite set of samples drawn from \(P\) by replacing \(\langle x_i x_j\rangle\) with an empirical estimate3. This estimator is sensitive to not only whether the distribution supports a given ground state, but also how frequently the ground state is sampled. For a finite number of samples, the backbone is minimized by a distribution that is well spread across the ground state4. Consider the special case of a sampler that mostly sees a single ground state. If you only draw a few samples, the backbone is estimated as 1, even if by drawing many samples you would see the correct result. By contrast, if many diverse samples are drawn, a much smaller value is found. The Boltzmann distribution is uniform on the ground states and has a small backbone. Effective postprocessing reduces the estimate of the backbone as sample diversity increases and the Boltzmann distribution is approached.

Figure 115 shows the expected backbone when subsampling only two samples from the distribution. After postprocessing is applied with the cold temperature, the average backbone estimate produced by the sample improves overall. The trend is similar but less pronounced at the local temperature.

### False-Positive Rate¶

One application of sampling is to create SAT filters [Dou2015]. A brief abstract description: the filter is defined by a set of samples, \(\mathcal{S}=\{x\}\), which are ground-state solutions to a satisfiable NAE3SAT problem instance. A test \(T\) of this filter is defined by a random triplet of indices, \(i_1,i_2,i_3\), and negations, \(n_1,n_2,n_3\). Indices are sampled uniformly from 1 to \(N\) (\(N=30\), the number of logical variables) without repetition; negations, from \(\pm 1\). The test yields either a false positive (1) if every sample in the set passes the test

or zero otherwise. The false-positive rate (FPR) for a given filter is an average over tests; the FPR for a distribution is an average over tests and sample sets of a given size.

Including a diverse set of samples (ground states) in the filter yields a lower FPR, for much the same reason as it reduces the backbone. This reduction in the FPR relates directly to filter effectiveness in application. Thus, postprocessing can be deemed successful if the set of ground states produced are diversified—yielding lower FPRs.

Figure 116 demonstrates the performance of filters. The FPR is determined by a double average over tests and sample sets. Filters were constructed from 1000 random sample pairs drawn without replacement from the larger sample set; to each was applied 1000 random tests. Postprocessing improves the FPR in the majority of cases, though the signal is not very strong. Trends in this metric are consistent with the backbone result, as would be expected because the backbone can be considered to place a limit on the FPR.

- 1
The actual energy penalty for a clause violation is model dependent since the Hamiltonian is scaled to meet the QPU constraint on coupling strength.

- 2
All Boltzmann distributions see the ground states uniformly, though the probability to see a ground state is not uniform and increases with \(\beta\).

- 3
This finite set is drawn from the empirical set restricting to ground states and without replacement. This ensures that the estimate is independent from the fraction of samples that are ground states, which may vary between distributions.

- 4
A uniform distribution is expected to be close to optimal for many Hamiltonians, though it is not optimal in general.

## Virtual Full-Yield Chip Solver¶

Note

Not all accounts have access to all solver types.

Each D-Wave 2000Q system has a quantum processing unit (QPU) based on Chimera topology with a specific working graph that depends on the qubit yield. System solvers are configured to enable problems to be solved on the corresponding QPU working graph. Variations between working graphs require software and algorithms to be explicitly ported between systems. Developers who want to build portable software and prototype algorithms on an idealized processor abstraction need the ability to solve problems on a virtual full-yield chip (VFYC) graph. Using this abstraction, problems can be posed based on the Chimera topology rather than a specific working graph.

The VFYC solver provides such an interface to the system. Through this solver, variables corresponding to a Chimera structured graph that are not representable on a specific working graph are determined via hybrid use of the QPU and the integrated postprocessing system. As well for problems explicitly defined on the topology, this solver can be used to drive solutions implicitly on embedded problems. Preliminary studies show that solver performance depends on the qubit yield of the specific QPU, which varies system to system. Preliminary test results are discussed below.

The VFYC workflow is as follows:

A user submits a problem based on a full-yield Chimera graph with default postprocessing parameters.

The QPU solves the portion of the problem that corresponds to the QPU working graph.

Inverse spin-reversal transforms are applied.

The state of variables that are not represented via the QPU working graph are determined using the

*SolveSubgraph*function shown in the Optimization_Postprocessing section. In the context of the VFYC solver, the specific subgraph \(g\) is chosen as the set of unrepresented variables, and the initial state \(s\) is determined from the solutions obtained in Step 3.The final solutions are obtained by sending the states from Step 4 to initialize postprocessing once more in either sampling or optimization mode across the VFYC graph.

The following pseudocode shows the VFYC algorithm.

### Performance Test Results¶

To test the performance of VFYC solvers, the relative performance of a D-Wave QPU that had a set of missing qubits was compared against a VFYC solver on the same underlying QPU with an additional 1% of the qubits disabled and replaced via the hybrid VFYC solver.

The two solvers were compared on instances at various sizes from various problem
classes, including RAN1 problems (random \(J\) values of \(\pm 1\)),
not-all-equal 3SAT (NAE3SAT) problems, and Google cluster-lattice (GCL) problems
(see Denchev *et al*. [Den2015]).

For each problem class, the two solvers are compared in terms of mean residual energy and samples-to-solution (STS):

Residual energy is defined as the energy above ground-state energy; in this case, the ground-state energy is estimated using exponential-time heuristic software solvers.

STS is defined as the expected number of samples required to hit a ground state.

For all problem classes, the full solver performed better than the VFYC solver. For most problem classes, the VFYC solver performed reasonably well, and it performed particularly well on problems with chains, presumably because postprocessing in the logical solution space is more powerful than postprocessing in the native Chimera topology.

The one problem class in which the VFYC performed poorly was the GCL problem class. This is unsurprising because the strong performance that the D-Wave system demonstrates on these problems [Den2015] relies on coherent multiqubit tunneling. When missing qubits are simply ignored, the delicately balanced clusters in the GCL problems are badly misspecified, and postprocessing is unable to fix the problems. Put another way, GCL problems depend very strongly on the quantum dynamics used in computation within the D-Wave system, and the hybrid solver is an inadequate substitute.