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On the Physical Explanation for Quantum Computational Speedup

Cuffaro, Michael E. On the Physical Explanation for Quantum Computational Speedup. Western Libraries.

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Abstract

The aim of this dissertation is to clarify the debate over the explanation of quantum speedup and to submit, for the reader's consideration, a tentative resolution to it. In particular, I argue, in this dissertation, that the physical explanation for quantum speedup is precisely the fact that the phenomenon of quantum entanglement enables a quantum computer to fully exploit the representational capacity of Hilbert space. This is impossible for classical systems, joint states of which must always be representable as product states.

I begin the dissertation by considering, in Chapter 2, the most popular of the candidate physical explanations for quantum speedup: the many worlds explanation of quantum computation. I argue that, although it is inspired by the neo-Everettian interpretation of quantum mechanics, unlike the latter it does not have the conceptual resources required to overcome objections such as the so-called `preferred basis objection'. I further argue that the many worlds explanation, at best, can serve as a good description of the physical process which takes place in so-called network-based computation, but that it is incompatible with other models of computation such as cluster state quantum computing. I next consider, in Chapter 3, a common component of most other candidate explanations of quantum speedup: quantum entanglement. I investigate whether entanglement can be said to be a necessary component of any explanation for quantum speedup, and I consider two major purported counter-examples to this claim. I argue that neither of these, in fact, show that entanglement is unnecessary for speedup, and that, on the contrary, we should conclude that it is. In Chapters 4 and 5 I then ask whether entanglement can be said to be sufficient as well. In Chapter 4 I argue that despite a result that seems to indicate the contrary, entanglement, considered as a resource, can be seen as sufficient to enable quantum speedup. Finally, in Chapter 5 I argue that entanglement is sufficient to explain quantum speedup as well.


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Item Type: Other
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Cuffaro, Michael E.mike@michaelcuffaro.com
Additional Information: Ph.D. Thesis submitted Winter Term 2013 at the University of Western Ontario
Keywords: quantum speedup, quantum computation, quantum computing, quantum information theory, quantum entanglement, quantum parallelism, many worlds explanation, many worlds interpretation, cluster state, necessity of entanglement, sufficiency of entanglement, how-possibly questions.
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Computation/Information > Quantum
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Dr. Michael Cuffaro
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2013 05:02
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2013 05:02
Item ID: 9656
Journal or Publication Title: Scholarship@Western
Publisher: Western Libraries
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Computation/Information > Quantum
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9656

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