Searching for quantum optimal control fields in the presence of singular critical points

Gregory Riviello, Constantin Brif, Ruixing Long, Re Bing Wu, Katharine Moore Tibbetts, Tak San Ho, Herschel Rabitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Quantum optimal control has enjoyed wide success for a variety of theoretical and experimental objectives. These favorable results have been attributed to advantageous properties of the corresponding control landscapes, which are free from local optima if three conditions are met: (1) the quantum system is controllable, (2) the Jacobian of the map from the control field to the evolution operator is full rank, and (3) the control field is not constrained. This paper explores how gradient searches for globally optimal control fields are affected by deviations from assumption (2). In some quantum control problems, so-called singular critical points, at which the Jacobian is rank deficient, may exist on the landscape. Using optimal control simulations, we show that search failure is only observed when a singular critical point is also a second-order trap, which occurs if the control problem meets additional conditions involving the system Hamiltonian and/or the control objective. All known second-order traps occur at constant control fields, and we also show that they only affect searches that originate very close to them. As a result, even when such traps exist on the control landscape, they are unlikely to affect well-designed gradient optimizations under realistic searching conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number013404
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 7 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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