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 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.