California Institute of Technology
Institute for
Quantum Information and Matter


IQI: Institute for Quantum Information Weekly Seminars

We invite experts to our weekly IQI Seminar Series to tell us about their recent research advances. We also hold more informal group meetings and sponsor IQI Workshops from time to time. Below is a calendar of these and other events of interest to the IQI community.


Harnessing Quantum Systems with Long-Range Interations
Alexey Gorshkov (Joint Quantum Institute)
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 3:00 p.m. 107 Annenberg

AMO (atomic, molecular, and optical) systems with long-range interactions, such as Rydberg atoms, polar molecules, and ions, are arguably the most controllable, tunable, and strongly interacting quantum systems. In this talk, we will first review how precise control over such systems has recently opened a new paradigm for quantum computing and communication, entanglement generation, and engineering of new phases of matter. Motivated by recent experiments, we will then focus on lattice systems with interactions featuring power-law decay with distance. In particular, we will derive a new bound on the propagation of information in such systems and exhibit a simple model that partially saturates the new bound [1]. The new bound is expected to provide crucial insights into numerous equilibrium and non-equilibrium phenomena in long-range-interacting systems and is on the verge of being verified experimentally by the trapped ion community [2,3]. 

[1] Z.-X. Gong, M. Foss-Feig, S. Michalakis, AVG, arXiv:1401.6174.
[2] P. Richerme, Z.-X. Gong, A. Lee, C. Senko, J. Smith, M. Foss-Feig, S. Michalakis, AVG, C. Monroe, arXiv:1401.5088 (Nature in press).
[3] P. Jurcevic, B. P. Lanyon, P. Hauke, C. Hempel, P. Zoller, R. Blatt, C. F. Roos, arXiv:1401.5387 (Nature in press). 

How "Quantum" is the D-Wave Machine?
Seung Woo Shin(UC Berkeley)
Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 3:00 p.m. 107 Annenberg

Recently there has been intense public interest in research surrounding the D-Wave "quantum computer". While claims about speedups over classical computers have been largely refuted, studies also claim that D-Wave machines exhibit signatures of "quantum behavior." In this talk, I will outline a very simple classical model which explains the published large scale input-output behavior of the D-Wave One machine. While raising serious questions about "how quantum" the D-Wave machine is, the new model also provides insights into the native problem solved by the D-Wave machine.

Joint work with Graeme Smith, John Smolin, and Umesh Vazirani

Ultimate Communication Capacity of Quantum Optical Channels
Raul Garcia-Patron (Universite Libre de Bruxelles)
Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 3:00 p.m. 107 Annenberg

Optical channels, such as fibers or free-space links, are ubiquitous in today's telecommunication networks. A complete physical model of these channels must necessarily take quantum effects into account in order to determine their ultimate performances. Specifically, Gaussian bosonic quantum channels have been extensively studied over the past decades given their importance for practical purposes. In spite of this, a longstanding conjecture on the optimality of Gaussian encodings has yet prevented finding their communication capacity. In this talk we will present a recent result that solves this conjecture and establishes the ultimate achievable bit rate under an energy constraint. We will conclude discussing further implications of our result.

Joint work with V. Giovannetti, N. J. Cerf and A. S. Holevo

On the Informational Completeness of Local Observables
Isaac Kim (Perimeter Institute)
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 3:00 p.m. 107 Annenberg

For a general multipartite quantum state, we formulate a locally
checkable constraint, under which the expectation values of certain
nonlocal observables are completely determined by the expectation values
of some local observables. The constraint is satisfied for ground states
of gapped quantum many-body systems in one and two spatial dimensions,
assuming a generic entanglement entropy scaling law holds. Its
implications on quantum state tomography and quantum error correcting
codes are discussed. On the quantum state tomography side, we establish
nontrivial upper bound on the sample/measurement complexities. On the
quantum error correcting code side, we provide an upper bound on the
code distance, which is shown to be tight for a large class of known

Physical Randomness Extractors
Xiaodi Wu (MIT)
Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 3:00 p.m. 107 Annenberg

How can one be certain that the output of an alleged random number generator is indeed random? This question is important not only for the security and the efficiency of modern day information processing, but also for understanding how fundamentally unpredictable events are possible in the physical world. The mathematical theory of randomness extraction from weak randomness sources shows that such certainty is possible only when two or more *independent* sources are available. However, the independence requirement seems hard to enforce or even just to verify.

To circumvent this fundamental and hard-to-enforce limit, we propose a framework of extracting randomness from physical systems, and base the security on the validity of physical theories --we envision a scenario in which in addition to a weak random source, we have access to (multiple, spatially separated, untrusted) physical devices that may have been prepared by the adversary but are nevertheless constrained by quantum mechanics and special relativity. We require that, when the extraction procedure succeeds, the output randomness is close to uniform against any quantum adversary. We call such extraction procedure a *physical randomness extractor*.

We construct the first physical randomness extractor for arbitrary min-entropy sources. Additionally, our extractor enjoys the desirable properties of being efficient and robustness. Specifically, to produce n-bits of certified randomness, our extractor takes a d=poly-log(n) bits source with d^{0.1} bits of min-entropy (measured against the devices) and poly(n) devices and runs in poly(n) time. Our extractor is robust in the sense that it tolerates a constant level of implementation imprecision of the devices.

Our result enables practical and provably secure randomness generation with a minimal assumption on the randomness source and the generating devices. It also implies that unless the world is deterministic, we can experimentally create inherently random events and be confident of its unpredictability.

This is joint work with Kai-Min Chung and Yaoyun Shi. 

Delegating Private Quantum Computations
Anne Broadbent (University of Ottawa)
Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 3:00 p.m. 107 Annenberg

Given the technological challenge in building quantum computers, it is likely that their initial availability will be in a client-server configuration.  We address the question of privacy in this scenario, by showing that an almost-classical client can delegate the execution of any quantum computation, where the data uploaded to the server is encrypted via the one-time pad. In order to do this, the quantum power required of the client is limited to being able to prepare random BB84 states.  We give a simulation-based security definition and a rigorous proof of security using a transformation to an entanglement-based protocol.

Quantum Information, Entanglement, and Many-body Physics
Fernando Brandao (University College London)
Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 4:00 p.m. 114 East Bridge

Quantum information science has been developed in the past twenty years with an eye on future technologies, such as quantum computers and quantum cryptography. In this talk I will argue that the theory is also very useful as a tool for studying other areas of physics.

I will exemplify this feature mainly focusing on the problem of describing low-temperature states of quantum many-body models. I will show how both non-critical states in one-dimension and low-energy states in very large dimensions have a simple entanglement structure, thus being well describable by classical means. Both results will follow from
the theory of entanglement originally developed for understanding the capabilities of quantum systems for information processing (in particular we will employ optimal protocols for entanglement distillation and an information-theoretic characterization of the so-called monogamy of entanglement).

Time permitting I will also briefly mention applications of quantum information theory to the study of the quantum-to-classical transition (in particular to the proposal termed quantum Darwinism) and to thermodynamics on the nanoscale. The talk will be geared at a general physics audience and no background on quantum information will be assumed.

Good quantum codes with low-weight stabilizers
Sergey Bravyi, IBM Watson Research Center
Tuesday, January 21, 2014, ** 2:00 pm, this week only ** 107 Annenberg

Quantum codes with low-weight stabilizers known as LDPC codes have been actively studied recently due to their potential applications in fault-tolerant quantum computing. However, all families of quantum LDPC codes known to this date suffer from a poor distance scaling limited by the square-root of the code length. This is in a sharp contrast with the classical case where good families of LDPC codes are known that combine constant encoding rate and linear distance.

In this talk I will describe the first family of good quantum codes with low-weight stabilizers. The new codes have a constant encoding rate, linear distance, and stabilizers acting on at most square root of n qubits, where n is the code length. For comparison, all previously known families of good quantum codes have stabilizers of linear weight. The proof combines two techniques: randomized constructions of good quantum codes and the homological product operation from algebraic topology. We conjecture that similar methods can produce good stabilizer codes with stabilizer weight n^a for any a>0. Finally, we apply the homological product to construct new small codes with low-weight stabilizers.

This is a joint work with Matthew Hastings
Preprint: arXiv:1311.0885

Simplified Quantum Compiling with Complex Gate Distillation
Guillaume Duclos-Cianci, University of Sherbrooke
Tuesday, December 3, 2013, 3:00 pm, 105 Annenberg (different location, this term only)

I will present a scheme to compile complex quantum gates that uses significantly fewer resources than existing schemes. In standard fault-tolerant protocols, a magic state is distilled from noisy resources, and copies of this magic state are then assembled into produced complex gates using the Solovay-Kitaev theorem or variants thereof. In our approach, we instead directly distill magic states associated to complex gates from noisy resources, leading to a reduction of the compiling overhead of several orders of magnitude.

The Bose-Hubbard model on a graph is QMA-complete
David Gosset, University of Waterloo
Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 3:00 pm, 105 Annenberg (different location, this term only)

The Bose-Hubbard model is a system of interacting bosons that live on the vertices of a graph. The particles can move between adjacent vertices and experience a repulsive on-site interaction. We prove that approximating the ground energy of the Bose-Hubbard model on a graph (at fixed particle number) is QMA-complete. Our QMA-hardness proof encodes an n-qubit computation in the subspace of n hard-core bosons with at most one particle per site, so it holds for any fixed repulsive interaction strength. This feature, along with the well-known mapping between hard-core bosons and spin systems, also allows us to prove a related result for a class of 2-local Hamiltonians defined by graphs (a generalization of the XY model).

This is joint work with Andrew Childs and Zak Webb.

Exponential Improvement in Precision for Hamiltonian-Evolution Simulation
Rolando Somma, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 3:00 pm, 105 Annenberg (different location, this term only)

I will present a quantum method for simulating Hamiltonian evolution with complexity polynomial in the logarithm of the inverse error. This is an exponential improvement over existing methods for Hamiltonian simulation. In addition, its scaling with respect to time is close to linear, and its scaling with respect to the time derivative of the Hamiltonian is logarithmic. These scalings improve upon most existing methods. Our method is to use a compressed Lie-Trotter formula, based on recent ideas for efficient discrete-time simulations of continuous-time quantum query algorithms.

This is joint work with Dominic Berry and Richard Cleve.

Simulation of dynamical abelian and no-abelian lattice gauge theories with cold atoms
Benni Reznik, Tel-Aviv University
Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Quantum simulations of High Energy Physics, and of gauge field theories, is an emerging and exciting direction in quantum simulations. Compared with condensed matter simulations however, such simulations are more demanding because of the additional requirements involving
local gauge symmetries, Lorentz invariance, and the inclusion of both Fermions and Bosons, that are needed for describing matter and force mediators. Explicit models of analog simulators of LGT have been recently proposed for systems of cold atoms in optical lattices.
In particular, it turns out that local gauge invariance, can be based and derived from the fundamental symmetries of the given atomic cold atomic interactions and conservation laws.

This then provides methods for simulating elementary gauge invariant field theories, such as compact-QED (U(1)), and SU(N) Yang-Mills theories. It suggests that fundamental HEP phonomena, such as dynamical quark confinement, and exotic QCD phases, that are currently inaccessible to classical simulations,  can be explored in “table-top” experiments with cold atoms.  

Nested quantum walks with quantum data structures
Robin Kothari, University of Waterloo
Tuesday, September 24, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

I'll talk about a new framework for designing quantum algorithms that extends the quantum walk framework of Magniez, Nayak, Roland, and Santha, by utilizing the idea of quantum data structures to construct an efficient method of nesting quantum walks.  The new framework extends the known quantum walk framework while retaining its advantages: simplicity, ease of use, and a straightforward understanding of all resources used by the algorithm, such as queries, time or space.

The new framework is also powerful.  In particular, the recently proposed learning graph framework of Belovs has yielded improved upper bounds for several problems, including the triangle finding problem and more general subgraph detection problems.  I will exhibit the power of the new framework by giving simple explicit constructions that reproduce both the O(n^{35/27}) and O(n^{9/7}) learning graph upper bounds (up to logarithmic factors) for triangle finding.

This is joint work with Stacey Jeffery and Frédéric Magniez.

Error models in quantum computation: an application of model selection
Steven van Enk, University of Oregon
Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Threshold theorems for fault-tolerant quantum computing assume that errors are of certain types. But how would one detect whether errors of the ''wrong'' type occur in one's experiment, especially if one does not even know what type of error to look for? The problem is that for many qubits a full state description is impossible to analyze, and a full process description is even more impossible to analyze. As a result, one simply cannot detect all types of errors.

Here we show through a quantum state estimation example (on up to 25 qubits) how to attack this problem using model selection. We use, in particular, the Akaike Information Criterion. The example also indicates that the number of measurements that one has to perform before noticing errors of the wrong type scales polynomially both with the number of qubits and with the error size.

This is joint work with Lucia Schwarz.

CMI and IQI Seminar
Fourier sparsity, spectral norm, and the Log-rank conjecture
Shengyu Zhang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

We study Boolean functions with sparse Fourier coefficients or small spectral norm, and show their applications to the Log-rank Conjecture for XOR functions f(x\oplus y) --- a fairly large class of functions including well-studied ones such as Equality and Hamming Distance. The rank of the communication matrix M_f for such functions is exactly the Fourier sparsity of f. Let d be the F2-degree of f and D(f) stand for the deterministic communication complexity for f(x\oplus y). We show that 1. D(f) = O(2^{d^2/2} log^{d-2} ||\hat f||_1). In particular, the Log-rank conjecture holds for XOR functions with constant F2-degree. 2. D(f) = O(d ||\hat f||_1) = O(\sqrt{rank(M_f)}\logrank(M_f)). We obtain our results through a degree-reduction protocol based on a variant of polynomial rank, and actually conjecture that its communication cost is already \log^{O(1)}rank(M_f). The above bounds also hold for the parity decision tree complexity of f, a measure that is no less than the communication complexity (up to a factor of 2).

Along the way we also show several structural results about Boolean functions with small F2-degree or small spectral norm, which could be of independent interest. For functions f with constant F2-degree: 1) f can be written as the summation of quasi-polynomially many indicator functions of subspaces with \pm-signs, improving the previous doubly exponential upper bound by Green and Sanders; 2) being sparse in Fourier domain is polynomially equivalent to having a small parity decision tree complexity; 3) f depends only on polylog||\hat f||_1 linear functions of input variables. For functions f with small spectral norm: 1) there is an affine subspace with co-dimension O(||\hat f||_1) on which f is a constant; 2) there is a parity decision tree with depth O(||\hat f||_1 log ||\hat f||_0).

Quantum metrology and many-body physics with optical lattice clocks
Michael J. Martin, JILA, University of Colorado
Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 4:00 pm, 107 Annenberg **Note time change**

Optical clocks have revolutionized the science of timekeeping, permitting frequency measurements at (and even below) the level of a part in 1017 systematic uncertainty. Neutral atom optical standards based on ultracold lattice-trapped atoms promise an order of magnitude increase in measurement precision over frequency standards based on single ions, but require the highest levels of laser precision to fully realize this improvement and operate near the limit set by quantum fluctuations.  In this seminar, I will introduce alkaline earth atoms in the context of precision frequency measurement and describe the features that make this class of neutral atoms desirable for optical frequency standards. I will then describe the JILA 87Sr optical lattice clock, where thousands of essentially decoherence-free 87Sr atoms are probed by a laser with <30 mHz linewidth. This level of precision allows access to a regime in which quantum fluctuations play a significant role, enabling near quantum-limited clock operation and the study of quantum many-body physics, which I will discuss. Such precise atom-laser interactions should permit direct characterization and manipulation of many-body states and explorations of the SU(N) symmetry exhibited by the nuclear spin of fermionic alkaline earth atoms

Is there life beyond Quantum Mechanics?
Anton Kapustin, Caltech
Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

I formulate a system of axioms for a physical theory which are common to both classical and quantum mechanics and incorporate some basic intuition about the laws of physics, such as the existence of composite systems and the relation between symmetries and conservation laws. I prove that if systems with finite-dimensional spaces of observables exist, then Quantum Mechanics is the only possible theory of this sort. Even if some of the axioms are dropped, one can show that Quantum Mechanics cannot be deformed by a small parameter. These results show that the laws  of Quantum Mechanics are exact, unless some deeply cherished assumptions about the structure of physical laws are wrong.

Quantum sparse-graph codes for future quantum computers
Leonid Pryadko, UCR
Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Research in quantum error correction has been heavily dominated by just two classes of codes: concatenated and surface codes. Both code families can only encode a limited number of qubits per block and thus require huge redundancy for any useful quantum computation. I will discuss recently discovered quantum hypergraph-product codes (QHPCs) which generalize the surface codes but can encode many more qubits per block. Just like the surface codes, QHPCs have convenient planar representations, with each encoded qubit corresponding to a pair of topologically non-trivial patterned strings. The allowed patterns correspond to codewords of two classical binary codes which form the QHPC. Further, each of the quantum measurements needed for error correction can involve just a few qubits, these measurements can be done in parallel, and almost all errors affecting a finite fraction of qubits can be corrected.

Building one-time memories from isolated qubits
Yi-Kai Liu, NIST
Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

One-time memories (OTM's) are a simple type of tamper-resistant cryptographic hardware, which can be used to implement one-time programs, a strong form of secure computation. Here we investigate the possibility of building OTM's using "isolated qubits" -- qubits that can only be accessed using local operations and classical communication (LOCC). Isolated qubits can be implemented using current technologies, such as nitrogen vacancy centers in diamond. 
We construct OTM's that are information-theoretically secure against one-pass LOCC adversaries using 2-outcome measurements. (Also, these OTM's can be prepared and accessed by honest parties using only LOCC operations.) This result is somewhat surprising, as OTM's cannot exist in a fully-quantum world or in a fully-classical world; yet they can be built from the combination of a quantum resource (single-qubit measurements) with a classical restriction (on communication between qubits). 
Our construction resembles Wiesner's old idea of quantum conjugate coding, implemented using random error-correcting codes. Our proof of security uses entropy chaining to bound the supremum of a suitable empirical process. An interesting open problem is to replace our random codes with efficiently-decodable codes, which may yield computationally-efficient OTM's that are secure against computationally-bounded LOCC adversaries.  In addition, we construct data-hiding states, which allow an LOCC sender to encode an (n-O(1))-bit messsage into n qubits, such that at most half of the message can be extracted by a one-pass LOCC receiver, but the whole message can be extracted by a general quantum receiver.

Continuous-variable quantum cryptography: Current status and future directions
Christian Weedbrook, University of Toronto
Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Quantum cryptography allows two people to communicate in absolute secrecy using unbreakable codes. In this talk I introduce the basics of the continuous-variable version of quantum cryptography and detail recent works and advances along with future opportunities in this exciting field of research.

Equilibrium value method for optimization problems and its applications in quantum computation
Xiaodi Wu, University of Michigan
Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Semidefinite programming (SDP) is a powerful technique from both an analytic and computational point of view for optimization problems.  It is also intimately related to quantum computation, as many optimization problems over density operators (quantum states) could be naturally formulated as SDPs.  
In spite of the existence of polynomial time solvers for general SDPs (e.g., interior point method), the black-box use of these solvers is, however, unsatisfactory for many purposes. For instance, the lack of explicitness makes it hard to adapt (or optimize) these solvers for special instances of SDPs.  Moreover, these polynomial time solvers provide no guarantee when one requires stronger efficiency, such as space efficiency (or equivalently, efficient computability by a parallel machine).  
In this talk, I will present a new approach called “Equilibrium Value Method” (EVM) that provides an explicit and time/space efficient solution to a substantial class of SDPs, which, in particular, includes many examples that arise naturally in quantum computation. The main idea behind EVM is to characterize the procedure to solve a SDP as a zero-sum game, in which one player tries to provide an optimal solution of the SDP while the other player tries to find anything wrong with that solution.
I will focus on the main application of EVM, which serves as a way to obtain PSPACE upper bounds of quantum complexity classes. First, I will show how EVM could lead to a simple and intuitive alternative proof to the recent celebrated result QIP=PSPACE. Second, I will illustrate how EVM could extend to a much more general setting, by proving that the quantum refereed games (i.e., the competing-prover variant of QIP) with two turns (QRG(2)) coincide with PSPACE.  
I will also talk about a few additional features of this approach and discuss a little bit about how it can extend to convex optimizations beyond SDPs. No background on either SDP or computational complexity will be assumed.
Based on results by myself and a joint result with Gus Gutoski (IQC, U Waterloo).

Sequential decoding of general quantum communication channels
Mark Wilde, Louisiana State University
Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Despite the fact that a quantum measurement generally disturbs the state of a quantum system, recent work of Seth Lloyd and collaborators demonstrates that a sender and receiver can communicate at the Holevo rate even when the receiver performs a large number of sequential measurements to determine the message of the sender. The present work contributes to this direction, by addressing three questions that have arisen from the work on sequential decoding. First, we show that Pranab Sen's non-commutative union bound applies for a sequence of general measurements (not merely projective ones). Next, we use this result to prove that sequential decoding works well even in the "one-shot" regime, where we are given a single instance of a channel and wish to determine the maximal number of bits that can be communicated up to a small failure probability. Finally, we demonstrate two ways in which a receiver can recover a state close to the original state after it has been decoded by a sequence of measurements that each succeed with high probability. The second of these methods will be useful in realizing an efficient decoder for fully quantum polar codes, should a method ever be found to realize an efficient decoder for classical-quantum polar codes. This work is available as arXiv:1303.0808.

Exponential decay of correlations implies area law
Fernando Brandao, ETH Zurich, Institute for Theoretical Physics
Tuesday, February 12, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Quantum states of many particles are fundamental to our understanding of many-body physics. Yet they are extremely daunting objects, requiring in the worst case an exponential number of parameters in the number of subsystems to be even approximately described. How then can multi-particle states be useful for giving predictions to physical observables? The intuitive explanation is that physically relevant quantum states, defined as the ones appearing in nature, are usually much simpler than generic quantum states.
In this talk I will discuss a very recent theorem that gives further justification to this intuition.

The theorem states that exponential decay of correlations, a physically motivated restriction on the set of multi-particle quantum states, implies an area law for the entanglement entropy of systems defined on a line, and thus also an efficient classical description for such systems. The result can be seen as a rigorous justification to the intuition that states with exponential decay of correlations, usually associated with non-critical phases of matter, are simple to describe.

I will outline the main steps in the proof, that relies on several previous tools from quantum information theory and that can also be seen as providing a limitation to the phenomenon of data hiding in quantum states. Based on joint work with Michal Horodecki.

Quantum information theory as a proof technique
Fernando Brandao, ETH Zurich, Institute for Theoretical Physics
Friday, February 8, 2013, 3:00 pm, 213 Annenberg **Note room change**

Quantum information theory emerges naturally from our desire to understand the capabilities of quantum mechanical systems for information processing. However, as for its classical counterpart, the theory turns out to have applications much beyond analysing the efficiency of communication protocols with quantum systems. In this talk I will present two results in this direction.

First I will discuss how the Sum-Of-Squares (Parrilo/Lasserre) hierarchy, one of the most powerful hierarchies of semidefinite programs for approximating optimisation problems, is intimately connected to quantum information theory, with the latter providing a convenient framework for understanding the efficiency of the former.
This leads to new fast algorithms for important quantum-related problems, such as determining whether there is entanglement in a quantum state, as well as improved running-time bounds for approximating problems of interest in theoretical computer science, such as unique games and the small set expansion problem.

Second I will discuss the use of techniques from quantum information theory to understand better the efficiency of mean-field theory, a very useful heuristics in computing properties of certain physical systems (such as in the context of quantum chemistry), and link it to the problem of obtaining a quantum counterpart of the celebrated PCP theorem, which is the central tool in the theory of hardness of approximation.

Both results show how ideas from quantum information theory are useful even outside the quest of building new quantum technologies, forming a powerful new method for arguing about problems ranging from optimization theory and computational complexity theory to numerical physics. No background on quantum information will be assumed.

Based on joint works with Boaz Barak (MRS New England), Matthias Christandl (ETH), Aram Harrow (MIT), Jonathan Kelner (MIT), David Steurer (Cornell), Yuan Zhou (CMU), and Jon Yard (MRS Station Q).

Device-independent physics: randomness good, communication bad
Valerio Scarani, Centre for Quantum Technologies and Department of Physics, National University of Singapore
Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Bell's theorem rules out the explanation of quantum correlations through pre-established agreement. Most physicists, including the present speaker, view this result as a confirmation of the existence of intrinsic randomness in nature. In the past five years, this lofty view has developed into an unexpected connection with applied quantum information science, hinting to the possibility of "device-independent certification". In the first half of the talk, I shall review some of these developments.
In the second half, I shall try and put myself in the skin of the die-hard of determinism, who have to deny one of the two other assumptions of Bell's theorem. I shall rapidly argue that no scientist can abandon "measurement independence" and shall then focus on abandoning no-signaling. I shall prove a strong result which can be seen as a twin of Bell's theorem ( if one tries to explain quantum correlations by a hidden, superluminal influence, this influence must propagate at infinite speed. In other words, any finite-speed influence cannot be hidden and would lead to the possibility of superluminal signaling. This goes as far as one can to prove that, even if intrinsic randomness is puzzling, the alternatives are probably much worse.

Quantum computational matter
Stephen Bartlett, University of Sydney
Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Low-temperature phases of strongly-interacting quantum many-body systems can exhibit a range of exotic quantum phenomena, from superconductivity to fractionalized particles.  One exciting prospect is that the ground or low-temperature thermal state of an engineered quantum system can function as a quantum computer.  For this idea to be sensible, the usefulness of a ground or low-temperature thermal state for quantum computation cannot be critically dependent on the details of the system's Hamiltonian; if so, engineering such systems would be difficult or even impossible.  A much more powerful result would be the existence of a robust ordered phase which is characterised by its ability to perform quantum computation.  

I’ll discuss some recent results on the existence of such a quantum computational phase of matter, working within the measurement-based (cluster state) model of quantum computation.  I will show that the ability to perform certain logic gates such as the identity gate over long distances in the model corresponds precisely to the recently-proposed notion of 'symmetry-protected topological order' for an appropriate symmetry group.  Using some techniques from fault-tolerance, we can then prove that any perturbation of the cluster state model will result in a ground state that remains universal for quantum computation, provided the perturbation is sufficiently small and respects a certain symmetry.


Partial-indistinguishability obfuscation using braids
Stephen Jordan, NIST
Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

A circuit obfuscator is an algorithm that translates logic circuits into functionally-equivalent similarly-sized logic circuits that are hard to understand. While ad hoc obfuscators exist, theoretical progress has mainly been limited to no-go results. In this work, we propose a new notion of circuit obfuscation, which we call partial indistinguishability. We then prove that, in contrast to previous definitions of obfuscation, partial indistinguishability obfuscation can be achieved by a polynomial-time algorithm. Specifically, our algorithm re-compiles the given circuit using a gate that satisfies the relations of the braid group, and then reduces to a braid normal form. A variant of our obfuscation algorithm can also be applied to quantum circuits.

On the structure of symmetric quantum measurements
Jon Yard, Microsoft Station Q
Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

A central problem in quantum information theory is to understand the apparent existence of d^2 equiangular lines in any d-dimensional complex vector space.  Such configurations of lines determine highly-symmetric optimal quantum measurements known as Symmetric Informationally-Complete Positive Operator-Valued Measures (SIC-POVMs).  Much evidence indicates that SIC-POVMs can always be obtained as special orbits of finite Heisenberg groups.  Exact constructions of Heisenberg-covariant SIC-POVMs are currently known in 22 different dimensions, while numerical evidence indicates that they exist for every dimension up to 67.  The elements of Heisenberg-covariant SIC-POVMs correspond to quantum states that are maximally localized in discrete phase space and can be viewed as finite-dimensional analogs of coherent states.  They also contain rich algebraic structure, as they are defined over number fields with nonabelian Galois groups - namely, over abelian extensions of quadratic fields.  In this talk, I will show how the mathematics of class field theory can explain some of the group-theoretic structure possessed by these known examples while offering predictions for their structure in arbitrary dimensions.

Emergence and frustration of Magnetism in a trapped ion quantum simulator
Wes Campbell, UCLA
Tuesday, November 20, 2012, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Frustration, or the competition between interacting components of a network, is often responsible for the complexity of many body systems. In quantum magnetic systems, frustration arises naturally from competing spin-spin interactions given by the geometry of the spin lattice or by the presence of long-range antiferromagnetic couplings. I will describe work using a trapped atomic ion quantum simulator to simulate strongly-coupled, frustrated quantum systems with up to 16 spins. We control the amount of frustration in the system by continuously tuning the range of an antiferromagnetic coupling in a linear spin chain, and we examine the dynamics and magnetism of the system as it crosses the critical point. In the future, quantum simulations such as these may to shed light on universal behavior of many-body systems in the quantum regime.

Topological stabilizer codes with a power law energy barrier via welding
Kamil Michnicki, University of Washington
Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

A high energy barrier for logical errors is essential for the development of self-correcting quantum memories in the Hamiltonian framework. These devices would have an unbounded storage time at a fixed temperature as a function of the total number of qubits. In order to find a codes with large energy barriers we introduce a new primitive, called welding, for combining two stabilizer codes to produce a new stabilizer code for which the resulting shape of the logical operators is the combination of the former two shapes. We apply welding to construct surface codes and then use the surface codes to construct solid codes, a variant of a 3-d toric code with rough and smooth boundaries. Finally, we weld solid codes together to produce a [O(L^3),1,O(L^{4/3})] stabilizer code with an energy barrier of O(L^{2/3}), which solves an open problem of whether a power law energy barrier is possible for local stabilizer code Hamiltonians in three-dimensions. The previous highest energy barrier is O(log L)$. Previous no-go results are avoided by breaking translation invariance. Despite the large energy barrier, this code is unlikely to serve as a self-correcting quantum memory.

Efficient distributed quantum computing
Steve Brierley, University of Bristol
Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

I'll present algorithms for efficiently moving and addressing quantum memory in parallel. These imply that the standard circuit model can be simulated with low overhead by the more realistic model of a distributed quantum computer. In addition, our results apply to existing memory intensive quantum algorithms. I'll show you a new parallel quantum search algorithm and explain how to improve the time-space trade-off for the Element Distinctness and Collision problems.

A classical leash for a quantum tiger: Key distribution with miminmal assumptions
Ben Reichardt, University of Southern California
Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Can an experimentalist possibly understand and control an arbitrary quantum system?  We give a scheme by which a classical experimentalist, with only classical interactions, can fully control black-box quantum-mechanical systems.  The scheme even distinguishes a quantum computer from a classical simulation.

Although partly philosophical, this result has cryptographic applications.  The original idea of quantum key distribution (QKD) is to base security on the laws of physics.  But in practice QKD systems have been attacked, because real devices deviate from the mathematical models.  Mayers and Yao in 1998 suggested that perhaps  all these side-channel attacks could be eliminated.  Barrett, Hardy and Kent gave the first "device-independent" QKD security proof in 2005, based on the assumption that Alice and Bob each have n devices, that are separately kept isolated but are otherwise arbitrary.  We prove security with just one device for Alice and one for Bob.  The key theorem studies sequential composition of a two-player game, and argues that nearly optimal strategies are nearly uniquely determined.
As another corollary, QMIP = MIP*.

Based on arXiv:1209.0448 and 1209.0449.  Joint work with Falk Unger and Umesh Vazirani.

Quantum mechanics, cosmology, and self-locating uncertainty
Sean Carroll, Caltech
Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

A longstanding issue in attempts to understand the Everett (Many-Worlds) approach to quantum mechanics is the origin of the Born Rule: why is the probability given by the square of the amplitude?

Recently, Page has raised another puzzle: the Born Rule itself is insufficient in cases where the wave function includes multiple indistinguishable observers in the same branch. We argue that both problems share a common solution, arising from a proper treatment of self-locating uncertainty (physical situations containing multiple copies of identical observers). This analysis gives a simple, physics-oriented derivation of the Born Rule, as well as a justification for the treatment of identical classical observers.

Topological order with tensor networks on infinite cylinders: an explicit wavefunction for fractionalized quasi-particle excitations
Guifre Vidal, Perimeter Institute
Tuesday, October 2, 2012, 3:00 pm, 107 Annenberg

Starting from a microscopic Hamiltonian on an infinite cylinder, In Ref. [Cincio and Vidal, "Characterizing topological order by studying the ground states of an infinite cylinder", arXiv:1208.2623v1], a method to obtain a tensor network representation for the different ground states of a topologically ordered system was proposed. In this talk, I will review that approach and explain how to also obtain a tensor network representation for each of the different quasi-particle excitations of the emergent, topologically ordered medium, including those with fractionalized quantum numbers.

For a complete listing of IQI seminars from 2001 through April 2012, see the archived IQI web page

[IQI Seminar Schedule for 2012]

[IQI Archive - includes IQI Seminars from 2001 through September 2012]