On the importance of data encoding in quantum Boltzmann methods

Merel A. Schalkers*, Matthias Möller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In recent years, quantum Boltzmann methods have gained more and more interest as they might provide a viable path toward solving fluid dynamics problems on quantum computers once this emerging compute technology has matured and fault-tolerant many-qubit systems become available. The major challenge in developing a start-to-end quantum algorithm for the Boltzmann equation consists in encoding relevant data efficiently in quantum bits (qubits) and formulating the streaming, collision and reflection steps as one comprehensive unitary operation. The current literature on quantum Boltzmann methods mostly proposes data encodings and quantum primitives for individual phases of the pipeline, assuming that they can be combined to a full algorithm. In this paper, we disprove this assumption by showing that for encodings commonly discussed in the literature, either the collision or the streaming step cannot be unitary. Building on this landmark result, we propose a novel encoding in which the number of qubits used to encode the velocity depends on the number of time steps one wishes to simulate, with the upper bound depending on the total number of grid points. In light of the non-unitarity result established for existing encodings, our encoding method is to the best of our knowledge the only one currently known that can be used for a start-to-end quantum Boltzmann solver where both the collision and the streaming step are implemented as a unitary operation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
Number of pages19
JournalQuantum Information Processing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

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  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Lattice Boltzmann
  • Quantum data encoding
  • Quantum fluid dynamics
  • Quantum lattice Boltzmann


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