In the past few years, quantum computing and machine learning fostered rapid developments in their respective areas of application, introducing new perspectives on how information processing systems can be realized and programmed. The rapidly growing field of quantum machine learning aims at bringing together these two ongoing revolutions. Here, we first review a series of recent works describing the implementation of artificial neurons and feedforward neural networks on quantum processors. We then present an original realization of efficient individual quantum nodes based on variational unsampling protocols. We investigate different learning strategies involving global and local layerwise cost functions, and we assess their performances also in the presence of statistical measurement noise. While keeping full compatibility with the overall memory-efficient feedforward architecture, our constructions effectively reduce the quantum circuit depth required to determine the activation probability of single neurons upon input of the relevant data-encoding quantum states. This suggests a viable approach toward the use of quantum neural networks for pattern classification on near-term quantum hardware.

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