Contextuality supplies the 'magic' for quantum computation

Nature
Mark HowardJoseph Emerson

Abstract

Quantum computers promise dramatic advantages over their classical counterparts, but the source of the power in quantum computing has remained elusive. Here we prove a remarkable equivalence between the onset of contextuality and the possibility of universal quantum computation via 'magic state' distillation, which is the leading model for experimentally realizing a fault-tolerant quantum computer. This is a conceptually satisfying link, because contextuality, which precludes a simple 'hidden variable' model of quantum mechanics, provides one of the fundamental characterizations of uniquely quantum phenomena. Furthermore, this connection suggests a unifying paradigm for the resources of quantum information: the non-locality of quantum theory is a particular kind of contextuality, and non-locality is already known to be a critical resource for achieving advantages with quantum communication. In addition to clarifying these fundamental issues, this work advances the resource framework for quantum computation, which has a number of practical applications, such as characterizing the efficiency and trade-offs between distinct theoretical and experimental schemes for achieving robust quantum computation, and putting bounds on the ove...Continue Reading

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