Bernstein-Vazirani Algorithm

In this section, we first introduce the Bernstein-Vazirani problem, and classical and quantum algorithms to solve it. We then implement the quantum algorithm using Qiskit, and run on a simulator and device.


  1. Introduction
    1.1 Bernstein-Vazirani Problem
    1.2 Bernstein-Vazirani Algorithm
  2. Example
  3. Qiskit Implementation
    3.1 Simulation
    3.2 Device
  4. Problems
  5. References

1. Introduction

The Bernstein-Vazirani algorithm, first introduced in Reference [1], can be seen as an extension of the Deutsch-Josza algorithm covered in the last section. It showed that there can be advantages in using a quantum computer as a computational tool for more complex problems compared to the Deutsch-Josza problem.

1a. Bernstein-Vazirani Problem

We are again given a hidden function Boolean $f$, which takes as as input a string of bits, and returns either $0$ or $1$, that is:

$f(\{x_0,x_1,x_2,...\}) \rightarrow 0 \textrm{ or } 1 \textrm{ where } x_n \textrm{ is }0 \textrm{ or } 1 $.

Instead of the function being balanced or constant as in the Deutsch-Josza problem, now the function is guaranteed to return the bitwise product of the input with some string, $s$. In other words, given an input $x$, $f(x) = s \cdot x \, \text{(mod 2)}$. We are expected to find $s$.

1b. Bernstein-Vazirani Algorithm

Classical Solution

Classically, the oracle returns $f_s(x) = s \cdot x \mod 2$ given an input $x$. Thus, the hidden bit string $s$ can be revealed by querying the oracle with $x = 1, 2, \ldots, 2^i, \ldots, 2^{n-1}$, where each query reveals the $i$-th bit of $s$ (or, $s_i$). For example, with $x=1$ one can obtain the least significant bit of $s$, and so on. This means we would need to call the function $f_s(x)$ $n$ times.

Quantum Solution

Using a quantum computer, we can solve this problem with 100% confidence after only one call to the function $f(x)$. The quantum Bernstein-Vazirani algorithm to find the hidden integer is very simple: (1) start from a $|0\rangle^{\otimes n}$ state, (2) apply Hadamard gates, (3) query the oracle, (4) apply Hadamard gates, and (5) measure, generically illustrated below:


The correctness of the algorithm is best explained by looking at the transformation of a quantum register $|a \rangle$ by $n$ Hadamard gates, each applied to the qubit of the register. It can be shown that:

$$ |a\rangle \xrightarrow{H^{\otimes n}} \frac{1}{\sqrt{2^n}} \sum_{x\in \{0,1\}^n} (-1)^{a\cdot x}|x\rangle. $$

In particular, when we start with a quantum register $|0\rangle$ and apply $n$ Hadamard gates to it, we have the familiar quantum superposition:

$$ |0\rangle \xrightarrow{H^{\otimes n}} \frac{1}{\sqrt{2^n}} \sum_{x\in \{0,1\}^n} |x\rangle, $$

which is slightly different from the Hadamard transform of the reqister $|a \rangle$ by the phase $(-1)^{a\cdot x}$.

Now, the quantum oracle $f_a$ returns $1$ on input $x$ such that $a \cdot x \equiv 1 \mod 2$, and returns $0$ otherwise. This means we have the following transformation:

$$ |x \rangle \xrightarrow{f_a} | x \rangle = (-1)^{a\cdot x} |x \rangle. $$

The algorithm to reveal the hidden integer follows naturally by querying the quantum oracle $f_a$ with the quantum superposition obtained from the Hadamard transformation of $|0\rangle$. Namely,

$$ |0\rangle \xrightarrow{H^{\otimes n}} \frac{1}{\sqrt{2^n}} \sum_{x\in \{0,1\}^n} |x\rangle \xrightarrow{f_a} \frac{1}{\sqrt{2^n}} \sum_{x\in \{0,1\}^n} (-1)^{a\cdot x}|x\rangle. $$

Because the inverse of the $n$ Hadamard gates is again the $n$ Hadamard gates, we can obtain $a$ by

$$ \frac{1}{\sqrt{2^n}} \sum_{x\in \{0,1\}^n} (-1)^{a\cdot x}|x\rangle \xrightarrow{H^{\otimes n}} |a\rangle. $$

2. Example

Let's go through a specific example for $n=2$ qubits and a secret string $s=11$. Note that we are following the formulation in Reference [2] that generates a circuit for the Bernstein-Vazirani quantum oracle using only one register.

  1. The register of two qubits is initialized to zero: $$\lvert \psi_0 \rangle = \lvert 0 0 \rangle$$
  2. Apply a Hadamard gate to both qubits: $$\lvert \psi_1 \rangle = \frac{1}{2} \left( \lvert 0 0 \rangle + \lvert 0 1 \rangle + \lvert 1 0 \rangle + \lvert 1 1 \rangle \right) $$
  3. For the string $s=11$, the quantum oracle can be implemented as $\text{Q}_f = Z_{1}Z_{2}$: $$\lvert \psi_2 \rangle = \frac{1}{2} \left( \lvert 0 0 \rangle - \lvert 0 1 \rangle - \lvert 1 0 \rangle + \lvert 1 1 \rangle \right)$$
  4. Apply a Hadamard gate to both qubits: $$\lvert \psi_3 \rangle = \lvert 1 1 \rangle$$
  5. Measure to find the secret string $s=11$

3. Qiskit Implementation

We now implement the Bernstein-Vazirani algorithm with Qiskit for a two bit function with $s=11$.

# initialization
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
%matplotlib inline
%config InlineBackend.figure_format = 'svg' # Makes the images look nice
import numpy as np

# importing Qiskit
from qiskit import IBMQ, BasicAer
from qiskit.providers.ibmq import least_busy
from qiskit import QuantumCircuit, ClassicalRegister, QuantumRegister, execute

# import basic plot tools
from qiskit.visualization import plot_histogram

We first set the number of qubits used in the experiment, and the hidden integer $s$ to be found by the algorithm. The hidden integer $s$ determines the circuit for the quantum oracle.

nQubits = 2 # number of physical qubits used to represent s
s = 3       # the hidden integer 

# make sure that a can be represented with nqubits
s = s % 2**(nQubits)

We then use Qiskit to program the Bernstein-Vazirani algorithm.

# Creating registers
# qubits for querying the oracle and finding the hidden integer
qr = QuantumRegister(nQubits)
# bits for recording the measurement on qr
cr = ClassicalRegister(nQubits)

bvCircuit = QuantumCircuit(qr, cr)
barriers = True

# Apply Hadamard gates before querying the oracle
for i in range(nQubits):
# Apply barrier 
if barriers:

# Apply the inner-product oracle
for i in range(nQubits):
    if (s & (1 << i)):
# Apply barrier 
if barriers:

#Apply Hadamard gates after querying the oracle
for i in range(nQubits):
# Apply barrier 
if barriers:

# Measurement
bvCircuit.measure(qr, cr)
<qiskit.circuit.instructionset.InstructionSet at 0x7fbc60286ed0>

3a. Experiment with Simulators

We can run the above circuit on the simulator.

# use local simulator
backend = BasicAer.get_backend('qasm_simulator')
shots = 1024
results = execute(bvCircuit, backend=backend, shots=shots).result()
answer = results.get_counts()


We can see that the result of the measurement is the binary representation of the hidden integer $3$ $(11)$.

3b. Experiment with Real Devices

We can run the circuit on the real device as below.

# Load our saved IBMQ accounts and get the least busy backend device with less than or equal to 5 qubits
provider = IBMQ.get_provider(hub='ibm-q')
backend = least_busy(provider.backends(filters=lambda x: x.configuration().n_qubits <= 5 and
                                   x.configuration().n_qubits >= 2 and
                                   not x.configuration().simulator and x.status().operational==True))
print("least busy backend: ", backend)
least busy backend:  ibmqx2
# Run our circuit on the least busy backend. Monitor the execution of the job in the queue
from import job_monitor

shots = 1024
job = execute(bvCircuit, backend=backend, shots=shots)

job_monitor(job, interval = 2)
Job Status: job has successfully run
# Get the results from the computation
results = job.result()
answer = results.get_counts()


As we can see, most of the results are $11$. The other results are due to errors in the quantum computation.

4. Problems

  1. The above implementation of Bernstein-Vazirani is for a secret bit string of $s = 11$. Modify the implementation for a secret string os $s = 1011$. Are the results what you expect? Explain.
  2. The above implementation of Bernstein-Vazirani is for a secret bit string of $s = 11$. Modify the implementation for a secret string os $s = 1110110101$. Are the results what you expect? Explain.

5. References

  1. Ethan Bernstein and Umesh Vazirani (1997) "Quantum Complexity Theory" SIAM Journal on Computing, Vol. 26, No. 5: 1411-1473, doi:10.1137/S0097539796300921.
  2. Jiangfeng Du, Mingjun Shi, Jihui Wu, Xianyi Zhou, Yangmei Fan, BangJiao Ye, Rongdian Han (2001) "Implementation of a quantum algorithm to solve the Bernstein-Vazirani parity problem without entanglement on an ensemble quantum computer", Phys. Rev. A 64, 042306, 10.1103/PhysRevA.64.042306, arXiv:quant-ph/0012114.
import qiskit
{'qiskit-terra': '0.11.1',
 'qiskit-aer': '0.3.4',
 'qiskit-ignis': '0.2.0',
 'qiskit-ibmq-provider': '0.4.5',
 'qiskit-aqua': '0.6.2',
 'qiskit': '0.14.1'}