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A double-slit proposal for quantum annealing

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We formulate and analyze a double-slit proposal for quantum annealing, which involves observing the probability of finding a two-level system (TLS) undergoing evolution from a transverse to a longitudinal field in the ground state at the final time tf. We demonstrate that for annealing schedules involving two consecutive diabatic transitions, an interference effect is generated akin to a double-slit experiment. The observation of oscillations in the ground state probability as a function of tf (before the adiabatic limit sets in) then constitutes a sensitive test of coherence between energy eigenstates. This is further illustrated by analyzing the effect of coupling the TLS to a thermal bath: increasing either the bath temperature or the coupling strength results in a damping of these oscillations. The theoretical tools we introduce significantly simplify the analysis of the generalized Landau-Zener problem. Furthermore, our analysis connects quantum annealing algorithms exhibiting speedups via the mechanism of coherent diabatic transitions to near-term experiments with quantum annealing hardware.

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