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- Sicmubbery and the Geometry of Quantum State Space

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PIRSA Number:

07100029

The solution of many problems in quantum information is critically dependent on the geometry of the space of density matrices. For a Hilbert space of dimension 2 this geometry is very simple: it is simply a sphere. However for Hilbert spaces of dimension greater than 2 the geometry is much more interesting as the bounding hypersurface is both highly symmetric (it has a d^2 real parameter symmetry group, where d is the dimension) and highly convoluted. The problem of getting a better understanding of this hypersurface is difficult (it is hard even in the case of a single qutrit). It is also, we believe, both physically important and mathematically deep. In this talk we relate the problem to MUBs (mutually unbiased bases) and SIC-POVMs (symmetric informationally complete positive operator valued measures). These structures were originally introduced in connection with tomography. However, that by no means exhausts their importance. In particular their existence (non-existence???) in a given dimension is a source of significant insight into the state space geometry in that dimension. SIC-POVMs are especially important in this regard as they provide a a natural set of coordinates for state space. In this talk we give an overview of the problem. We then go on to describe some recent results obtained in collaboration with Chris Fuchs and Hoan Dang (also see recent work by Wootters and Sussman). In particular we describe the connection with minimum uncertainty states. These states, besides being interesting in themselves (they are a kind of discrete analogue of coherent states with important cryptographic applications), suggest a potentially fruitful line of attack on the still outstanding SIC existence problem.

©2012 Institut Périmètre de Physique Théorique