Quantum computing seeks to use the powers of quantum mechanics to accomplish tasks that classical computers cannot easily accomplish. Adiabatic quantum computing is one flavor of quantum computing that slowly changes a system with time in such a way that the state remains close to the ground state for the entire evolution. An easy way to implement and study adiabatic computing is using stoquastic Hamiltonians with no-sign problem. These Hamiltonians can be readily simulated on classical computers using quantum Monte Carlo schemes; though, it is unknown whether such simulation captures the speed and power of the quantum computation.

In this work, I study stoquastic Hamiltonians, focusing on quantum mechanical tunneling through classically inaccessible regions and barriers. I study multi-qubit tunneling problems to determine what properties of the barrier make this problem quantum mechanically or classically hard or inefficient. I compare quantum adiabatic computing with a path-integral Quantum Monte Carlo algorithm, which is a classical algorithm designed to simulate the quantum mechanical dynamics of the adiabatic evolution. Limited numerical data shows strong correlation between adiabatic and Monte Carlo runtimes, but due to computational limits, only small system sizes could be sampled.

Additionally, I study the properties of the quantum adiabatic algorithm in both the asymptotic limit of a large number of qubits and long runtimes and more realistic finite system sizes and non-adiabatic conditions. I develop a modification of the existing Villain transformation that allows it to find the asymptotic running time of the quantum evolution for different barrier sizes. Furthermore, I compare this to finite system sizes and discover the extremely large numbers of qubits are needed for these asymptotics to be useful.

When the quantum dynamics are run faster than adiabatically, new behavior arises that could potentially lead to enhancements in the quantum runtimes. I explore these enhancements, discovering when they do and do not occur. I also develop a broad framework for determining the nature of the near-adiabatic behavior of any quantum evolution, using only information about the energy gap between the ground state and the first excited state.