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Scalar quantum field theories as a benchmark for near-term quantum computers

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Physical Review A
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Quantum field theory (QFT) simulations are a potentially important application for noisy intermediate scale quantum (NISQ) computers. The ability of a quantum computer to emulate a QFT, therefore, constitutes a natural application-centric benchmark. Foundational quantum algorithms to simulate QFT processes rely on fault-tolerant computational resources, but to be useful on NISQ machines, error-resilient algorithms are required. Here we outline and implement a hybrid algorithm to calculate the lowest energy levels of the paradigmatic 1+1--dimensional interacting scalar QFT. We calculate energy splittings and compare results with experimental values obtained on currently available quantum hardware. We show that the accuracy of mass-renormalization calculations represents a useful metric with which near-term hardware may be benchmarked. We also discuss the prospects of scaling the algorithm to full simulation of interacting QFTs on future hardware.