Quantum computers hold the promise of solving computational problems which are intractable using conventional methods. For fault-tolerant operation quantum computers must correct errorsoccurring due to unavoidable decoherence and limited control accuracy. Here, we demonstrate quantum error correction using the surface code, which is known for its exceptionally high tolerance to errors. Using 17 physical qubits in a superconducting circuit we encode quantum information in a distance-three logical qubit building up on recent distance-two error detection experiments. In an error correction cycle taking only 1.1μs, we demonstrate the preservation of four cardinal states of the logical qubit. Repeatedly executing the cycle, we measure and decode both bit- and phase-flip error syndromes using a minimum-weight perfect-matching algorithm in an error-model-free approach and apply corrections in postprocessing. We find a low error probability of 3% per cycle when rejecting experimental runs in which leakage is detected. The measured characteristics of our device agree well with a numerical model. Our demonstration of repeated, fast and high-performance quantum error correction cycles, together with recent advances in ion traps, support our understanding that fault-tolerant quantum computation will be practically realizable.

Quantum computing crucially relies on the ability to efficiently characterize the quantum states output by quantum hardware. Conventional methods which probe these states through directmeasurements and classically computed correlations become computationally expensive when increasing the system size. Quantum neural networks tailored to recognize specific features of quantum states by combining unitary operations, measurements and feedforward promise to require fewer measurements and to tolerate errors. Here, we realize a quantum convolutional neural network (QCNN) on a 7-qubit superconducting quantum processor to identify symmetry-protected topological (SPT) phases of a spin model characterized by a non-zero string order parameter. We benchmark the performance of the QCNN based on approximate ground states of a family of cluster-Ising Hamiltonians which we prepare using a hardware-efficient, low-depth state preparation circuit. We find that, despite being composed of finite-fidelity gates itself, the QCNN recognizes the topological phase with higher fidelity than direct measurements of the string order parameter for the prepared states.

High fidelity two-qubit gates exhibiting low crosstalk are essential building blocks for gate-based quantum information processing. In superconducting circuits two-qubit gates are typicallybased either on RF-controlled interactions or on the in-situ tunability of qubit frequencies. Here, we present an alternative approach using a tunable cross-Kerr-type ZZ-interaction between two qubits, which we realize by a flux-tunable coupler element. We control the ZZ-coupling rate over three orders of magnitude to perform a rapid (38 ns), high-contrast, low leakage (0.14 %) conditional-phase CZ gate with a fidelity of 97.9 % without relying on the resonant interaction with a non-computational state. Furthermore, by exploiting the direct nature of the ZZ-coupling, we easily access the entire conditional-phase gate family by adjusting only a single control parameter.

Variational quantum algorithms are believed to be promising for solving computationally hard problems and are often comprised of repeated layers of quantum gates. An example thereofis the quantum approximate optimization algorithm (QAOA), an approach to solve combinatorial optimization problems on noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) systems. Gaining computational power from QAOA critically relies on the mitigation of errors during the execution of the algorithm, which for coherence-limited operations is achievable by reducing the gate count. Here, we demonstrate an improvement of up to a factor of 3 in algorithmic performance as measured by the success probability, by implementing a continuous hardware-efficient gate set using superconducting quantum circuits. This gate set allows us to perform the phase separation step in QAOA with a single physical gate for each pair of qubits instead of decomposing it into two CZ-gates and single-qubit gates. With this reduced number of physical gates, which scales with the number of layers employed in the algorithm, we experimentally investigate the circuit-depth-dependent performance of QAOA applied to exact-cover problem instances mapped onto three and seven qubits, using up to a total of 399 operations and up to 9 layers. Our results demonstrate that the use of continuous gate sets may be a key component in extending the impact of near-term quantum computers.

The parity of the number of elementary excitations present in a quantum system provides important insights into its physical properties. Parity measurements are used, for example, totomographically reconstruct quantum states or to determine if a decay of an excitation has occurred, information which can be used for quantum error correction in computation or communication protocols. Here we demonstrate a versatile parity detector for propagating microwaves, which distinguishes between radiation fields containing an even or odd number n of photons, both in a single-shot measurement and without perturbing the parity of the detected field. We showcase applications of the detector for direct Wigner tomography of propagating microwaves and heralded generation of Schrödinger cat states. This parity detection scheme is applicable over a broad frequency range and may prove useful, for example, for heralded or fault-tolerant quantum communication protocols.

The realization of quantum error correction is an essential ingredient for reaching the full potential of fault-tolerant universal quantum computation. Using a range of different schemes,logical qubits can be redundantly encoded in a set of physical qubits. One such scalable approach is based on the surface code. Here we experimentally implement its smallest viable instance, capable of repeatedly detecting any single error using seven superconducting qubits, four data qubits and three ancilla qubits. Using high-fidelity ancilla-based stabilizer measurements we initialize the cardinal states of the encoded logical qubit with an average logical fidelity of 96.1%. We then repeatedly check for errors using the stabilizer readout and observe that the logical quantum state is preserved with a lifetime and coherence time longer than those of any of the constituent qubits when no errors are detected. Our demonstration of error detection with its resulting enhancement of the conditioned logical qubit coherence times in a 7-qubit surface code is an important step indicating a promising route towards the realization of quantum error correction in the surface code.

Fault tolerant quantum computing relies on the ability to detect and correct errors, which in quantum error correction codes is typically achieved by projectively measuring multi-qubitparity operators and by conditioning operations on the observed error syndromes. Here, we experimentally demonstrate the use of an ancillary qubit to repeatedly measure the ZZ and XX parity operators of two data qubits and to thereby project their joint state into the respective parity subspaces. By applying feedback operations conditioned on the outcomes of individual parity measurements, we demonstrate the real-time stabilization of a Bell state with a fidelity of F≈74% in up to 12 cycles of the feedback loop. We also perform the protocol using Pauli frame updating and, in contrast to the case of real-time stabilization, observe a steady decrease in fidelity from cycle to cycle. The ability to stabilize parity over multiple feedback rounds with no reduction in fidelity provides strong evidence for the feasibility of executing stabilizer codes on timescales much longer than the intrinsic coherence times of the constituent qubits.

The duration and fidelity of qubit readout is a critical factor for applications in quantum information processing as it limits the fidelity of algorithms which reuse qubits after measurementor apply feedback based on the measurement result. Here we present fast multiplexed readout of five qubits in a single 1.2 GHz wide readout channel. Using a readout pulse length of 80 ns and populating readout resonators for less than 250 ns we find an average correct assignment probability for the five measured qubits to be 97%. The differences between the individual readout errors and those found when measuring the qubits simultaneously are within 1%. We employ individual Purcell filters for each readout resonator to suppress off-resonant driving, which we characterize by the dephasing imposed on unintentionally measured qubits. We expect the here presented readout scheme to become particularly useful for the selective readout of individual qubits in multi-qubit quantum processors.