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The Heisenberg Representation of Quantum Computers
Gottesman, Daniel
eprint arXiv:quant-ph/9807006
Publication Date:
Quantum Physics
20 pages, LaTeX. Expanded version of a plenary speech at the 1998 International Conference on Group Theoretic Methods in Physics; Group22: Proceedings of the XXII International Colloquium on Group Theoretical Methods in Physics, eds. S. P. Corney, R. Delbourgo, and P. D. Jarvis, pp. 32-43 (Cambridge, MA, International Press, 1999)
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Since Shor's discovery of an algorithm to factor numbers on a quantum computer in polynomial time, quantum computation has become a subject of immense interest. Unfortunately, one of the key features of quantum computers - the difficulty of describing them on classical computers - also makes it difficult to describe and understand precisely what can be done with them. A formalism describing the evolution of operators rather than states has proven extremely fruitful in understanding an important class of quantum operations. States used in error correction and certain communication protocols can be described by their stabilizer, a group of tensor products of Pauli matrices. Even this simple group structure is sufficient to allow a rich range of quantum effects, although it falls short of the full power of quantum computation.
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