Licentiate seminar Dec 19: "Quantum error correction"

Published Dec 07, 2012

On Dec 19, Jonas Almlöf defended his thesis on Quantum error correction. The seminar was held in AlbaNova, room FB53, at 14:00. Opponent was Jan-Åke Larsson from Linköping University.

Thesis

The full thesis can be downloaded from DIVA:
kth.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:574131/FULLTEXT02

Abstract

This thesis intends to familiarise the reader with quantum error correction, and also show some relations to the well known concept of information - and the lesser known quantum information. Quantum information describes how information can be carried by quantum states, and how interaction with other systems give rise to a full set of quantum phenomena, many of which have no correspondence in classical information theory. These phenomena include decoherence, as a consequence of entanglement. Decoherence can also be understood as "information leakage", i.e., knowledge of an event is transferred to the reservoir - an effect that in general destroys superpositions of pure states.

It is possible to protect quantum states (e.g., qubits) from interaction with the environment -- but not by amplification or duplication, due to the "no-cloning" theorem. Instead, this is done using coding, non-demolition measurements, and recovery operations. In a typical scenario, however, not all types of destructive events are likely to occur, but only those allowed by the information carrier, the type of interaction with the environment, and how the environment "picks up" information of the error events. These characteristics can be incorporated into a code, i.e., a channel-adapted quantum error-correcting code. Often, it is assumed that the environment's ability to distinguish between error events is small, and I will denote such environments "memory-less".

This assumption is not always valid, since the ability to distinguish error events is related to the temperature of the environment, and in the particular case of information coded onto photons, 
typically holds, and one must then assume that the environment has a "memory". In this thesis, I describe a short quantum error-correcting code (QECC), adapted for photons interacting with a cold environment, i.e., this code protects from an environment that continuously records which error occurred in the coded quantum state. Also, it is of interest to compare the performance of different QECCs -But which yardstick should one use? We compare two such figures of merit, namely the quantum mutual information and the quantum fidelity, and show that they can not, in general, be simultaneously maximised in an error correcting procedure. To show this, we have used a five-qubit perfect code, but assumed a channel that only cause bit-flip errors. It appears that quantum mutual information is the better suited yardstick of the two, however more tedious to calculate than quantum fidelity - which is more commonly used.
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