General conditions for universality of Quantum Hamiltonians
Recent work has defined what it means for one quantum system to simulate the full physics of another, and demonstrated that—within a very demanding definition of simulation —there exist families of local Hamiltonians that are universal, in the sense that they can simulate all other quantum Hamiltonians. This rigorous mathematical framework of Hamiltonian simulation not only gave a theoretical foundation for describing analogue Hamiltonian simulation. It also unified many previous Hamiltonian complexity results, and implied new ones. It has even found applications in constructing the first rigorous holographic dualities between local Hamiltonians, providing richer toy models of AdS/CFT duality in quantum gravity.
All previous constructions of universal Hamiltonians have relied heavily on using perturbation gadgets, and constructing complicated ‘chains’ of simulations to prove that simple models are indeed universal. In recent work we developed a new method for proving universality. Unlike perturbation- gadget approaches, this directly leverages the ability to encode computation into the ground states of QMA-hard Hamiltonians. With this technique we are able to derive necessary and sufficient complexity-theoretic conditions characterising universal Hamiltonians. We also use our new simulation method to provide a simple construction of two new universal models. Both of these are translationally invariant systems in 1D, and we show that one of these constructions is efficient in terms of the number of spins in the universal construction (but not in terms of the norm of the simulating Hamiltonian). This is the first translationally invariant universal model which is efficient in terms of system size overhead.
Based on joint work with Stephen Piddock, Johannes Bausch and Toby Cubitt (arXiv:2003.13753, arXiv:2101.12319)