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Concept# Linear optical quantum computing

Summary

Linear optical quantum computing or linear optics quantum computation (LOQC) is a paradigm of quantum computation, allowing (under certain conditions, described below) universal quantum computation. LOQC uses photons as information carriers, mainly uses linear optical elements, or optical instruments (including reciprocal mirrors and waveplates) to process quantum information, and uses photon detectors and quantum memories to detect and store quantum information.
Although there are many other implementations for quantum information processing (QIP) and quantum computation, optical quantum systems are prominent candidates, since they link quantum computation and quantum communication in the same framework. In optical systems for quantum information processing, the unit of light in a given mode—or photon—is used to represent a qubit. Superpositions of quantum states can be easily represented, encrypted, transmitted and detected using photons. Besides, linear optical elements of optical systems may be the simplest building blocks to realize quantum operations and quantum gates. Each linear optical element equivalently applies a unitary transformation on a finite number of qubits. The system of finite linear optical elements constructs a network of linear optics, which can realize any quantum circuit diagram or quantum network based on the quantum circuit model. Quantum computing with continuous variables is also possible under the linear optics scheme.
The universality of 1- and 2-bit gates to implement arbitrary quantum computation has been proven. Up to unitary matrix operations () can be realized by only using mirrors, beam splitters and phase shifters (this is also a starting point of boson sampling and of computational complexity analysis for LOQC). It points out that each operator with inputs and outputs can be constructed via linear optical elements. Based on the reason of universality and complexity, LOQC usually only uses mirrors, beam splitters, phase shifters and their combinations such as Mach–Zehnder interferometers with phase shifts to implement arbitrary quantum operators.

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