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The complexity of the consistency and N-representability problems for quantum states


Quantum mechanics has important consequences for machines that store and manipulate information. In particular, quantum computers might be more powerful than classical computers; examples of this include Shor's algorithm for factoring and discrete logarithms, and Grover's algorithm for black-box search. Because of these theoretical results, and the possibility that we may eventually succeed in building scalable quantum computers, it is interesting to study complexity classes based on quantum computation. QMA (Quantum Merlin-Arthur) is the quantum analogue of the class NP. There are a few QMA-complete problems, most of which are variants of the "Local Hamiltonian" problem introduced by Kitaev. In this dissertation we show some new QMA-complete problems which are very different from those known previously, and have applications in quantum chemistry. The first one is "Consistency of Local Density Matrices" : given a collection of density matrices describing different subsets of an n-qubit system (where each subset has constant size), decide whether these are consistent with some global state of all n qubits. This problem was first suggested by Aharonov. We show that it is QMA-complete, via an oracle reduction from Local Hamiltonian. Our reduction is based on algorithms for convex optimization with a membership oracle, due to Yudin and Nemirovskii. Next we show that two problems from quantum chemistry, "Fermionic Local Hamiltonian" and "N- representability," are QMA-complete. These problems involve systems of fermions, rather than qubits; they arise in calculating the ground state energies of molecular systems. N-representability is particularly interesting, as it is a key component in recently developed numerical methods using the contracted Schrodinger equation. Although these problems have been studied since the 1960's, it is only recently that the theory of quantum computation has provided the right tools to properly characterize their complexity. Finally, we study some special cases of the Consistency problem, pertaining to 1-dimensional and "stoquastic" systems. We also give an alternative proof of a result due to Jaynes : whenever local density matrices are consistent, they are consistent with a Gibbs state

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