Document Open Access Logo

Universality of EPR Pairs in Entanglement-Assisted Communication Complexity, and the Communication Cost of State Conversion

Authors Matthew Coudron , Aram W. Harrow

Thumbnail PDF


  • Filesize: 0.59 MB
  • 25 pages

Document Identifiers

Author Details

Matthew Coudron
  • Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo, Canada
Aram W. Harrow
  • Center for Theoretical Physics, MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA

Cite AsGet BibTex

Matthew Coudron and Aram W. Harrow. Universality of EPR Pairs in Entanglement-Assisted Communication Complexity, and the Communication Cost of State Conversion. In 34th Computational Complexity Conference (CCC 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 137, pp. 20:1-20:25, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


In this work we consider the role of entanglement assistance in quantum communication protocols, focusing, in particular, on whether the type of shared entangled state can affect the quantum communication complexity of a function. This question is interesting because in some other settings in quantum information, such as non-local games, or tasks that involve quantum communication between players and referee, or simulating bipartite unitaries or communication channels, maximally entangled states are known to be less useful as a resource than some partially entangled states. By contrast, we prove that the bounded-error entanglement-assisted quantum communication complexity of a partial or total function cannot be improved by more than a constant factor by replacing maximally entangled states with arbitrary entangled states. In particular, we show that every quantum communication protocol using Q qubits of communication and arbitrary shared entanglement can be epsilon-approximated by a protocol using O(Q/epsilon+log(1/epsilon)/epsilon) qubits of communication and only EPR pairs as shared entanglement. This conclusion is opposite of the common wisdom in the study of non-local games, where it has been shown, for example, that the I3322 inequality has a non-local strategy using a non-maximally entangled state, which surpasses the winning probability achievable by any strategy using a maximally entangled state of any dimension [Vidick and Wehner, 2011]. We leave open the question of how much the use of a shared maximally entangled state can reduce the quantum communication complexity of a function. Our second result concerns an old question in quantum information theory: How much quantum communication is required to approximately convert one pure bipartite entangled state into another? We give simple and efficiently computable upper and lower bounds. Given two bipartite states |chi> and |upsilon>, we define a natural quantity, d_{infty}(|chi>, |upsilon>), which we call the l_{infty} Earth Mover’s distance, and we show that the communication cost of converting between |chi> and |upsilon> is upper bounded by a constant multiple of d_{infty}(|chi>, |upsilon>). Here d_{infty}(|chi>, |upsilon>) may be informally described as the minimum over all transports between the log of the Schmidt coefficients of |chi> and those of |upsilon>, of the maximum distance that any amount of mass must be moved in that transport. A precise definition is given in the introduction. Furthermore, we prove a complementary lower bound on the cost of state conversion by the epsilon-Smoothed l_{infty}-Earth Mover’s Distance, which is a natural smoothing of the l_{infty}-Earth Mover’s Distance that we will define via a connection with optimal transport theory.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Quantum communication complexity
  • Theory of computation → Quantum information theory
  • Entanglement
  • quantum communication complexity


  • Access Statistics
  • Total Accesses (updated on a weekly basis)
    PDF Downloads


  1. Dorit Aharonov, Aram W. Harrow, Zeph Landau, Daniel Nagaj, Mario Szegedy, and Umesh Vazirani. Local Tests of Global Entanglement and a Counterexample to the Generalized Area Law. In Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS), 2014 IEEE 55th Annual Symposium on, pages 246-255, October 2014. URL:
  2. C. H. Bennett, H. J. Bernstein, S. Popescu, and B. Schumacher. Concentrating partial entanglement by local operations. Phys. Rev. A, 53:2046-2052, 1996. URL:
  3. C. H. Bennett, I. Devetak, A. W. Harrow, P. W. Shor, and A. Winter. The Quantum Reverse Shannon Theorem and Resource Tradeoffs for Simulating Quantum Channels. IEEE Trans. Inf. Theory, 60(5):2926-2959, May 2014. URL:
  4. S. Daftuar and P. Hayden. Quantum state transformations and the Schubert calculus. Annals of Physics, 315:80-122, 2005. URL:
  5. A. W. Harrow. Entanglement spread and clean resource inequalities. In P. Exner, editor, XVIth Int. Cong. on Math. Phys., pages 536-540. World Scientific, 2009. URL:
  6. A. W. Harrow and D. W. Leung. A communication-efficient nonlocal measurement with application to communication complexity and bipartite gate capacities. IEEE Trans. Inf. Theory, 57(8):5504-5508, 2011. URL:
  7. A. W. Harrow and H.-K. Lo. A tight lower bound on the classical communication cost of entanglement dilution. IEEE Trans. Inf. Theory, 50(2):319-327, 2004. URL:
  8. P. Hayden and W. van Dam. Universal entanglement transformations without communication. pra, 67:060302(R), 2003. URL:
  9. P. Hayden and A.J. Winter. On the communication cost of entanglement transformations. Phys. Rev. A, 67:012306, 2003. URL:
  10. Rahul Jain, Jaikumar Radhakrishnan, and Pranab Sen. Optimal Direct Sum and Privacy Trade-off Results for Quantum and Classical Communication Complexity, 2008. URL:
  11. M. Junge and C. Palazuelos. Large Violation of Bell Inequalities with Low Entanglement. Communications in Mathematical Physics, 306(3):695-746, 2011. URL:
  12. Debbie Leung, Ben Toner, and John Watrous. Coherent state exchange in multi-prover quantum interactive proof systems. Chicago Journal of Theoretical Computer Science, 11:1-18, 2013. URL:
  13. H.-K. Lo and S. Popescu. The classical communication cost of entanglement manipulation: Is entanglement an inter-convertible resource? Phys. Rev. Lett., 83:1459-1462, 1999. URL:
  14. Ilan Newman. Private vs. common random bits in communication complexity. Inf. Process. Lett., 39(2):67-71, 1991. URL:
  15. M. A. Nielsen. Conditions for a Class of Entanglement Transformations. Phys. Rev. Lett., 83:436-439, 1999. URL:
  16. Oded Regev. Bell Violations Through Independent Bases Games. Quantum Info. Comput., 12(1-2):9-20, January 2012. URL:
  17. Thomas Vidick and Stephanie Wehner. More nonlocality with less entanglement. Phys. Rev. A, 83:052310, May 2011. URL:
Questions / Remarks / Feedback

Feedback for Dagstuhl Publishing

Thanks for your feedback!

Feedback submitted

Could not send message

Please try again later or send an E-mail