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Kindergarden quantum mechanics graduates (...or how I learned to stop gluing LEGO together and love the ZX-calculus)

by   Bob Coecke, et al.

This paper is a `spiritual child' of the 2005 lecture notes Kindergarten Quantum Mechanics, which showed how a simple, pictorial extension of Dirac notation allowed several quantum features to be easily expressed and derived, using language even a kindergartner can understand. Central to that approach was the use of pictures and pictorial transformation rules to understand and derive features of quantum theory and computation. However, this approach left many wondering `where's the beef?' In other words, was this new approach capable of producing new results, or was it simply an aesthetically pleasing way to restate stuff we already know? The aim of this sequel paper is to say `here's the beef!', and highlight some of the major results of the approach advocated in Kindergarten Quantum Mechanics, and how they are being applied to tackle practical problems on real quantum computers. We will focus mainly on what has become the Swiss army knife of the pictorial formalism: the ZX-calculus. First we look at some of the ideas behind the ZX-calculus, comparing and contrasting it with the usual quantum circuit formalism. We then survey results from the past 2 years falling into three categories: (1) completeness of the rules of the ZX-calculus, (2) state-of-the-art quantum circuit optimisation results in commercial and open-source quantum compilers relying on ZX, and (3) the use of ZX in translating real-world stuff like natural language into quantum circuits that can be run on today's (very limited) quantum hardware. We also take the title literally, and outline an ongoing experiment aiming to show that ZX-calculus enables children to do cutting-edge quantum computing stuff. If anything, this would truly confirm that `kindergarten quantum mechanics' wasn't just a joke.


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