Variational autoencoder reconstruction of complex many-body physics

Ilia A. Luchnikov, Alexander Ryzhov, Pieter Jan Stas, Sergey N. Filippov, Henni Ouerdane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Thermodynamics is a theory of principles that permits a basic description of the macroscopic properties of a rich variety of complex systems from traditional ones, such as crystalline solids, gases, liquids, and thermal machines, to more intricate systems such as living organisms and black holes to name a few. Physical quantities of interest, or equilibrium state variables, are linked together in equations of state to give information on the studied system, including phase transitions, as energy in the forms of work and heat, and/or matter are exchanged with its environment, thus generating entropy. A more accurate description requires different frameworks, namely, statistical mechanics and quantum physics to explore in depth the microscopic properties of physical systems and relate them to their macroscopic properties. These frameworks also allow to go beyond equilibrium situations. Given the notably increasing complexity of mathematical models to study realistic systems, and their coupling to their environment that constrains their dynamics, both analytical approaches and numerical methods that build on these models show limitations in scope or applicability. On the other hand, machine learning, i.e., data-driven, methods prove to be increasingly efficient for the study of complex quantum systems. Deep neural networks, in particular, have been successfully applied to many-body quantum dynamics simulations and to quantum matter phase characterization. In the present work, we show how to use a variational autoencoder (VAE)-a state-of-the-art tool in the field of deep learning for the simulation of probability distributions of complex systems. More precisely, we transform a quantum mechanical problem of many-body state reconstruction into a statistical problem, suitable for VAE, by using informationally complete positive operator-valued measure. We show, with the paradigmatic quantum Ising model in a transverse magnetic field, that the ground-state physics, such as, e.g., magnetization and other mean values of observables, of a whole class of quantum many-body systems can be reconstructed by using VAE learning of tomographic data for different parameters of the Hamiltonian, and even if the system undergoes a quantum phase transition. We also discuss challenges related to our approach as entropy calculations pose particular difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1091
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Complex systems thermodynamics
  • Ising model
  • Machine learning
  • Quantum phase transition
  • Variational autoencoder


Dive into the research topics of 'Variational autoencoder reconstruction of complex many-body physics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this