Zhu, Zheng; Andrew J. Ochoa and Helmut G. Katzgraber

Although many efficient heuristics have been developed to solve binary optimization problems, these typically produce correlated solutions for degenerate problems. Most notably, transverse-field quantum annealing—the heuristic employed in current commercially-available quantum annealing machines—has been shown to often be exponentially biased when sampling the solution space. Here we present an approach to sample ground-state (or low-energy) configurations for binary optimization problems. The method samples degenerate states with almost equal probability and is based on a combination of parallel tempering Monte Carlo with isoenergetic cluster moves. We illustrate the approach using two-dimensional Ising spin glasses, as well as spin glasses on the D-Wave Systems Inc. quantum annealer chimera topology. In addition, a simple heuristic to approximate the number of solutions of a degenerate problem is introduced.