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Aspects of Fault-Tolerant Quantum Computation


Iverson, Joseph Kramer (2020) Aspects of Fault-Tolerant Quantum Computation. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/q5ev-rm81.


This thesis is concerned with fault-tolerant quantum information processing using quantum error-correcting codes. It contains two major pieces of work. The first is a study of coherent noise in the context of stabilizer error-correcting codes. The second is a proposed scheme for a universal set of fault-tolerant logical gates in a particular code family built out of the 3D toric code.

Chapter 1 provides an introduction to quantum computation and fault tolerance. Many basic concepts in error-correcting codes are defined. Special attention is paid to the set of code properties that are most likely to determine how easily a given fault-tolerant scheme might be implemented on a physical device. These include the fault-tolerant noise threshold and the overhead.

In Chapters 2 and 3 we study the effectiveness of quantum error correction against coherent noise. Coherent errors (for example, unitary noise) can interfere constructively, so that in some cases the average infidelity of a quantum circuit subjected to coherent errors may increase quadratically with the circuit size; in contrast, when errors are incoherent (for example, depolarizing noise), the average infidelity increases at worst linearly with circuit size. We consider the performance of quantum stabilizer codes against a noise model in which a unitary rotation is applied to each qubit, where the axes and angles of rotation are nearly the same for all qubits. In Chapter 2 we introduce coherent noise and incoherent noise and a number of methods that are useful for the study of coherent noise. We study the repetition code as a basic example, and we also study a correlated noise model. In Chapter 3 we show that for the toric code subject to such independent coherent noise, and for minimal-weight decoding, the logical channel after error correction becomes increasingly incoherent as the length of the code increases, provided the noise strength decays inversely with the code distance. A similar conclusion holds for weakly correlated coherent noise. Our methods can also be used for analyzing the performance of other codes and fault-tolerant protocols against coherent noise. However, our result does not show that the coherence of the logical channel is suppressed in the more physically relevant case where the noise strength is held constant as the code block grows, and we recount the difficulties that prevented us from extending the result to that case. Nevertheless our work supports the idea that fault-tolerant quantum computing schemes will work effectively against coherent noise, providing encouraging news for quantum hardware builders who worry about the damaging effects of control errors and coherent interactions with the environment.

Chapter 4 is connected to another aspect of fault tolerance, fault-tolerant logical gates. The toric code is a promising candidate for fault-tolerant quantum computation because of its high threshold and low-weight stabilizers. A universal gate set in the toric code generally requires magic state distillation, which can incur a significant qubit overhead. In this work we construct an error-correcting code in three dimensions based on the toric code that features a fault-tolerant T gate with no magic state distillation required. We further describe a subsystem version of our code which supports a universal set of fault-tolerant gates. This code can be converted into the stabilizer version using gauge-fixing. We also argue that our code can be converted to a (2+1)-D protocol, where a 2D lattice undergoes a measurement-based protocol over time. In this way, a fault-tolerant logical T gate can be realized in a 2D toric code structure.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Quantum Information Processing; Quantum Error-Correcting Codes; Coherent Noise; Topological Codes; Fault-tolerant Logical Gates
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Preskill, John P.
Thesis Committee:
  • Preskill, John P.
  • Brandao, Fernando (chair)
  • Chen, Xie
  • Painter, Oskar J.
Defense Date:20 May 2020
Non-Caltech Author Email:jkiverson (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05282020-140924661
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription based on Chapters 2 and 3.
Iverson, Joseph Kramer0000-0003-4665-8839
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:13729
Deposited By: Joseph Iverson
Deposited On:01 Jun 2020 22:20
Last Modified:28 Feb 2023 19:15

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