The Space-Time Cost of Purifying Quantum Computations

Author Mark Zhandry

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Mark Zhandry
  • NTT Research, Sunnyvale, CA, USA

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Mark Zhandry. The Space-Time Cost of Purifying Quantum Computations. In 15th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science Conference (ITCS 2024). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 287, pp. 102:1-102:22, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2024)


General quantum computation consists of unitary operations and also measurements. It is well known that intermediate quantum measurements can be deferred to the end of the computation, resulting in an equivalent purely unitary computation. While time efficient, this transformation blows up the space to linear in the running time, which could be super-polynomial for low-space algorithms. Fefferman and Remscrim (STOC'21) and Girish, Raz and Zhan (ICALP'21) show different transformations which are space efficient, but blow up the running time by a factor that is exponential in the space. This leaves the case of algorithms with small-but-super-logarithmic space as incurring a large blowup in either time or space complexity. We show that such a blowup is likely inherent, demonstrating that any "black-box" transformation which removes intermediate measurements must significantly blow up either space or time.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Quantum complexity theory
  • Quantum computation
  • intermediate measurements
  • time-space trade-offs


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