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Optimal Detection of Rotations about Unknown Axes by Coherent and Anticoherent States




John Martin1, Stefan Weigert2, and Olivier Giraud3

1Institut de Physique Nucléaire, Atomique et de Spectroscopie, CESAM, University of Liège, B-4000 Liège, Belgium
2Department of Mathematics, University of York, UK-York YO10 5DD, United Kingdom
3Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, LPTMS, 91405 Orsay, France

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Coherent and anticoherent states of spin systems up to spin $j=2$ are known to be optimal in order to detect rotations by a known angle but unknown rotation axis. These optimal quantum rotosensors are characterized by minimal fidelity, given by the overlap of a state before and after a rotation, averaged over all directions in space. We calculate a closed-form expression for the average fidelity in terms of anticoherent measures, valid for arbitrary values of the quantum number $j$. We identify optimal rotosensors (i) for arbitrary rotation angles in the case of spin quantum numbers up to $j=7/2$ and (ii) for small rotation angles in the case of spin quantum numbers up to $j=5$. The closed-form expression we derive allows us to explain the central role of anticoherence measures in the problem of optimal detection of rotation angles for arbitrary values of $j$.

Advances in measurement techniques have often led to progress in physics. Over time, metrology developed as a subject of its own, especially in the context of defining standard units for physical quantities. Quantum theory provides new perspectives on measurements but also new challenges. The currently emerging quantum technologies require ever better control of microscopic systems and, hence, measurements which are as accurate as possible. In this paper, we are interested to determine whether a quantum system has undergone a rotation by a known angle about an unknown axis. The states optimally suited for this task are called “optimal quantum rotosensors”. They are characterized by minimal fidelity, given by the overlap of a state before and after a rotation, averaged over all directions in space. The closed-form expression we derive for the fidelity and numerical computations allow us to explain the central role of a specific class of quantum states in this problem which are known as “anticoherent” states.

► BibTeX data

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Could not fetch Crossref cited-by data during last attempt 2020-06-22 15:53:37: Could not fetch cited-by data for 10.22331/q-2020-06-22-285 from Crossref. This is normal if the DOI was registered recently. On SAO/NASA ADS no data on citing works was found (last attempt 2020-06-22 15:53:38).



Efficient Quantum Walk Circuits for Metropolis-Hastings Algorithm




Jessica Lemieux1, Bettina Heim2, David Poulin1,3, Krysta Svore2, and Matthias Troyer2

1Département de Physique & Institut Quantique, Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada
2Quantum Architecture and Computation Group, Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA 98052, USA
3Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1Z8

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We present a detailed circuit implementation of Szegedy’s quantization of the Metropolis-Hastings walk. This quantum walk is usually defined with respect to an oracle. We find that a direct implementation of this oracle requires costly arithmetic operations. We thus reformulate the quantum walk, circumventing its implementation altogether by closely following the classical Metropolis-Hastings walk. We also present heuristic quantum algorithms that use the quantum walk in the context of discrete optimization problems and numerically study their performances. Our numerical results indicate polynomial quantum speedups in heuristic settings.

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[24] Troels F. Rønnow, Zhihui Wang, Joshua Job, Sergio Boixo, Sergei V. Isakov, David Wecker, John M. Martinis, Daniel A. Lidar, and Matthias Troyer. Defining and detecting quantum speedup. Science, 345 (6195): 420–424, jul 2014. ISSN 10959203. 10.1126/​science.1252319.

[25] Neil J Ross and Peter Selinger. Optimal ancilla-free Clifford+T approximation of Z-rotations. Quantum Information and Computation, 16 (11&12): 0901, 2016. URL http:/​/​​abs/​1403.2975.

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[27] R. D. Somma, S. Boixo, H. Barnum, and E. Knill. Quantum simulations of classical annealing processes. Physical Review Letters, 101 (13): 130504, sep 2008. ISSN 00319007. 10.1103/​PhysRevLett.101.130504.

[28] Mario Szegedy. Quantum speed-up of Markov Chain based algorithms. In Proceedings – Annual IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science, FOCS, pages 32–41, 2004. 10.1109/​focs.2004.53.

[29] K. Temme, T. J. Osborne, K. G. Vollbrecht, D. Poulin, and F. Verstraete. Quantum Metropolis sampling. Nature, 471 (7336): 87–90, mar 2011. ISSN 00280836. 10.1038/​nature09770.

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Cited by

[1] Jessica Lemieux, Guillaume Duclos-Cianci, David Sénéchal, and David Poulin, “Resource estimate for quantum many-body ground state preparation on a quantum computer”, arXiv:2006.04650.

The above citations are from SAO/NASA ADS (last updated successfully 2020-06-29 12:29:48). The list may be incomplete as not all publishers provide suitable and complete citation data.

Could not fetch Crossref cited-by data during last attempt 2020-06-29 12:29:47: Could not fetch cited-by data for 10.22331/q-2020-06-29-287 from Crossref. This is normal if the DOI was registered recently.


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Pursuing a career in quantum technologies




Quantum in the Summer

Scott, an A Level student at Lytchett Minster School, Poole, is currently studying Maths, Physics and Further Maths. He is also undertaking an Extended Project Qualification as an AS course and was tasked with writing a 5000 word dissertation on a topic of his choice, Scott chose to focus on “What are the uses of quantum entanglement for communication and data transfer”. During his time working on the dissertation, Scott has liaised regularly with Quantum Communications Hub Director, Tim Spiller. He hopes to go on to study at the University of Cambridge, Durham or York. We caught up with Scott to ask what sparked his interest in quantum physics, how he went about developing it within school and what his plans are for the future. Read on to see what he had to say.

“I believe one of the most beneficial qualities to have in life is curiosity, a thirst for knowledge and the ability to ask questions in order to fully understand an idea. To simply accept a fact you have been given as the truth, without ever considering why, is completely useless. How then are you meant to explain it to another person or apply it later in life, if you don’t first fully understand it yourself?

One of the most powerful words in the English language is “why”.  By asking it, not only do you further your understanding of a topic, you push the person you are speaking to to question the idea too. I’ve always had a natural fascination for this word, when I was younger, I would annoy my mum at every possible instant when I didn’t understand a concept. When I was 2, I asked her where the petrol in the car goes and why it needs refilling. She told me how the fuel enters the engine, is ignited, and then expands thus pushing the car forward. The next thing for me to ask was why the fuel expands, my Mum explained that this is to do with science, more specifically physics.

I noticed as I grew older that most ideas generally boiled down to some form of science if you ask why enough times.  I find the idea of working in scientific study so interesting, on a daily basis you are able to contribute to the general understanding of the world around us and get paid to do so.

I’ve recently developed a fondness of quantum physics. I find the idea of being able to understand and manipulate the smallest form of matter we are exposed to incredible. Matter behaves very differently on the quantum scale and being able to use these differences to our advantage can be very beneficial. It has already proved to be so with developments in quantum computing, encryption and many other fields.

At school, quantum technology research is touched upon, however, speaking to teachers and other professionals can help with extending knowledge and building relationships. Reaching out to Professors or researchers at Universities can also be a great way of getting into specific fields of sciences. They often tend to be very open to answering questions or helping with ideas if asked, especially with young students aspiring for careers in science. This can allow (especially aspiring scientists) an opportunity to speak to a professional and learn more complex topics that spark your interest at a younger age.

In the future I want to go on to study physics at Durham, Cambridge or York then specialise at postgraduate level. I currently would like to specialise in quantum physics or computing but I’m sure the initial Physics degree may spark interest somewhere else.

I would love to work in quantum computation technologies as I find the applications of such an abstract topic incredible. With companies like Google and IBM leading research on these topics I think it would be amazing to travel to America for a few years work on some of the most complex computers on the planet. ”


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Eleven risks of marrying a quantum information scientist




Some of you may have wondered whether I have a life. I do. He’s a computer scientist, and we got married earlier this month. 

Marrying a quantum information scientist comes with dangers not advertised in any Brides magazine (I assume; I’ve never opened a copy of Brides magazine). Never mind the perils of gathering together Auntie So-and-so and Cousin Such-and-such, who’ve quarreled since you were six; or spending tens of thousands of dollars on one day; or assembling two handfuls of humans during a pandemic. Beware the risks of marrying someone who unconsciously types “entropy” when trying to type “entry,” twice in a row.

1) She’ll introduce you to friends as “a classical computer scientist.” They’d assume, otherwise, that he does quantum computer science. Of course. Wouldn’t you?


2) The quantum punning will commence months before the wedding. One colleague wrote, “Many congratulations! Now you know the true meaning of entanglement.” Quantum particles can share entanglement. If you measure entangled particles, your outcomes can exhibit correlations stronger than any produceable by classical particles. As a card from another colleague read, “May you stay forever entangled, with no decoherence.”

I’d rather not dedicate much of a wedding article to decoherence, but suppose that two particles are maximally entangled (can generate the strongest correlations possible). Suppose that particle 2 heats up or suffers bombardment by other particles. The state of particle 2 decoheres as the entanglement between 1 and 2 frays. Equivalently, particle 2 entangles with its environment, and particle 2 can entangle only so much: The more entanglement 2 shares with the environment, the less entanglement 2 can share with 1. Physicists call entanglement—ba-duh-bummonogamous. 

The matron-of-honor toast featured another entanglement joke, as well as five more physics puns.1 (She isn’t a scientist, but she did her research.) She’ll be on Zoom till Thursday; try the virtual veal.


3) When you ask what sort of engagement ring she’d like, she’ll mention black diamonds. Experimentalists and engineers are building quantum computers from systems of many types, including diamond. Diamond consists of carbon atoms arranged in a lattice. Imagine expelling two neighboring carbon atoms and replacing one with a nitrogen atom. You’ll create a nitrogen-vacancy center whose electrons you can control with light. Such centers color the diamond black but let you process quantum information.

If I’d asked my fiancé for a quantum computer, we’d have had to wait 20 years to marry. He gave me an heirloom stone instead.


4) When a wedding-gown shopkeeper asks which sort of train she’d prefer, she’ll inquire about Maglevs. I dislike shopping, as the best man knows better than most people. In middle school, while our classmates spent their weekends at the mall, we stayed home and read books. But I filled out gown shops’ questionnaires. 

“They want to know what kinds of material I like,” I told the best man over the phone, “and what styles, and what type of train. I had to pick from four types of train. I didn’t even know there were four types of train!”

“Steam?” guessed the best man. “Diesel?”

His suggestions appealed to me as a quantum thermodynamicist. Thermodynamics is the physics of energy, which engines process. Quantum thermodynamicists study how quantum phenomena, such as entanglement, can improve engines. 

“Get the Maglev train,” the best man added. “Low emissions.”

“Ooh,” I said, “that’s superconducting.” Superconductors are quantum systems in which charge can flow forever, without dissipating. Labs at Yale, at IBM, and elsewhere are building quantum computers from superconductors. A superconductor consists of electrons that pair up with help from their positively charged surroundings—Cooper pairs. Separating Cooper-paired electrons requires an enormous amount of energy. What other type of train would better suit a wedding?

I set down my phone more at ease. Later, pandemic-era business closures constrained me to wearing a knee-length dress that I’d worn at graduations. I didn’t mind dodging the train.


5) When you ask what style of wedding dress she’ll wear, she’ll say that she likes her clothing as she likes her equations. Elegant in their simplicity.

6) You’ll plan your wedding for wedding season only because the rest of the year conflicts with more seminars, conferences, and colloquia. The quantum-information-theory conference of the year takes place in January. We wanted to visit Australia in late summer, and Germany in autumn, for conferences. A quantum-thermodynamics conference takes place early in the spring, and the academic year ends in May. Happy is the June bride; happier is the June bride who isn’t preparing a talk.

7) An MIT chaplain will marry you. Who else would sanctify the union of a physicist and a computer scientist?

8) You’ll acquire more in-laws than you bargained for. Biological parents more than suffice for most spouses. My husband has to contend with academic in-laws.


Academic in-laws of my husband’s attending the wedding via Zoom.

9) Your wedding can double as a conference. Had our wedding taken place in person, collaborations would have flourished during the cocktail hour. Papers would have followed; their acknowledgements sections would have nodded at the wedding; and I’d have requested copies of all manuscripts for our records—which might have included our wedding album.

10) You’ll have trouble identifying a honeymoon destination where she won’t be tempted to give a seminar. I thought that my then-fiancé would enjoy Vienna, but it boasts a quantum institute. So do Innsbruck and Delft. A colleague-friend works in Budapest, and I owe Berlin a professional visit. The list grew—or, rather, our options shrank. But he turned out not to mind my giving a seminar. The pandemic then cancelled our trip, so we’ll stay abroad for a week after some postpandemic European conference (hint hint).

11) Your wedding will feature on the blog of Caltech’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter. Never mind The New York Times. Where else would you expect to find a quantum information physicist? I feel fortunate to have found someone with whom I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.


1“I know that if Nicole picked him to stand by her side, he must be a FEYNMAN and not a BOZON.”


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