Models of fault-tolerant quantum computation

Dawson, Christopher Malcolm (2006). Models of fault-tolerant quantum computation PhD Thesis, School of Physical Sciences, The University of Queensland.

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Author Dawson, Christopher Malcolm
Thesis Title Models of fault-tolerant quantum computation
School, Centre or Institute School of Physical Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2006
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Michael Nielsen
Total pages 205
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Subjects L
249999 Physical Sciences not elsewhere classified
780102 Physical sciences
Abstract/Summary This thesis is concerned with certain theoretical problems that arise naturally in the context of fault-tolerant quantum computation. Fault-tolerance can be defined as the art of building reliable devices from unreliable components, and is of particular importance for quantum computers that aim to precisely control the dynamics of extremely sensitive quantum systems. A model of quantum computation is a specification of the basic building blocks by which a quantum computation is implemented. The best known model is the quantum circuit model, where computations are implemented by means of unitary quantum gates that are applied to two-level quantum systems known as qubits. In a physical implementation of a quantum circuit, the gates and qubits will inevitably be affected by noise. Fault-tolerant quantum circuits are designed to be resilient against the effects of this noise, provided that it is not too strong. Fault-tolerance in the quantum circuit model is well developed thanks to the theory of quantum error-correcting codes. These codes allow for the correction of small numbers of errors introduced by a variety of noise processes. In a fault-tolerant quantum circuit, qubits are replaced with encoded qubits, and quantum gates with encoded gates that are immediately followed by special quantum circuits for error correction. Provided the rate at which errors occur is below a constant threshold value, the accumulation of errors can be checked so that the correct output of the computation correctly determined. The threshold acts as both a measure of how good the design of a quantum circuit is, and also as a target for experimenters aiming to implement quantum circuits. Much current research in quantum computation is aimed at designing quantum circuits that increase the noise threshold, hopefully to the point where it becomes within the reach of experimenters. A fault-tolerant encoded quantum gate must limit the propagation of errors so that the code’s corrective capabilities are not overwhelmed. It is not so easy to design encoded gates that satisfy this property, and to date only a finite handful of such gates are known. In a faulttolerant quantum circuit, all quantum gates must be decomposed or compiled in terms of those that may be implemented fault-tolerantly. In the first part of this thesis, we present two results that may be applied to this problem of gate compilation. The first is a generic method based on the Solovay-Kitaev theorem that may be applied to all quantum gates, but is most effective for those that act on single qubits. We present the Solovay-Kitaev theorem in its simples known form as an algorithm, together with novel constructions that can be used to implement it. Following this we give a two specialized methods for two-qubit gate decomposition, based on the Cartan decomposition of the Lie group SU(4). The cluster-state model of computation is an alternative to the quantum circuit model, and makes use of quantum measurements and highly entangled cluster-states to implement a quantum computation. The fault-tolerant techniques developed for quantum circuits are not immediately applicable in this model, so in order for it to be a realistic candidate for performing computations we prove that such techniques are possible. In the second part of the thesis we prove that constant fault-tolerance thresholds may be achieved in the cluster-state model, and in particular in an adaption to an optical implementation. Following this we design a complete error correction scheme for optical cluster-state computation, and numerically determine the threshold of this model in the face of the dominant noise models likely to affect such an implementation.

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 14:31:58 EST