Exponential separation between shallow quantum circuits and unbounded fan-in shallow classical circuits

by   Adam Bene Watts, et al.

Recently, Bravyi, Gosset, and König (Science, 2018) exhibited a search problem called the 2D Hidden Linear Function (2D HLF) problem that can be solved exactly by a constant-depth quantum circuit using bounded fan-in gates (or QNC^0 circuits), but cannot be solved by any constant-depth classical circuit using bounded fan-in AND, OR, and NOT gates (or NC^0 circuits). In other words, they exhibited a search problem in QNC^0 that is not in NC^0. We strengthen their result by proving that the 2D HLF problem is not contained in AC^0, the class of classical, polynomial-size, constant-depth circuits over the gate set of unbounded fan-in AND and OR gates, and NOT gates. We also supplement this worst-case lower bound with an average-case result: There exists a simple distribution under which any AC^0 circuit (even of nearly exponential size) has exponentially small correlation with the 2D HLF problem. Our results are shown by constructing a new problem in QNC^0, which we call the Relaxed Parity Halving Problem, which is easier to work with. We prove our AC^0 lower bounds for this problem, and then show that it reduces to the 2D HLF problem. As a step towards even stronger lower bounds, we present a search problem that we call the Parity Bending Problem, which is in QNC^0/qpoly (QNC^0 circuits that are allowed to start with a quantum state of their choice that is independent of the input), but is not even in AC^0[2] (the class AC^0 with unbounded fan-in XOR gates). All the quantum circuits in our paper are simple, and the main difficulty lies in proving the classical lower bounds. For this we employ a host of techniques, including a refinement of Håstad's switching lemmas for multi-output circuits that may be of independent interest, the Razborov-Smolensky AC^0[2] lower bound, Vazirani's XOR lemma, and lower bounds for non-local games.


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