Span programs and quantum time complexity

by   Arjan Cornelissen, et al.

Span programs are an important model of quantum computation due to their tight correspondence with quantum query complexity. For any decision problem f, the minimum complexity of a span program for f is equal, up to a constant factor, to the quantum query complexity of f. Moreover, this correspondence is constructive. A span program for f with complexity C can be compiled into a bounded error quantum algorithm for f with query complexity O(C), and vice versa. In this work, we prove an analogous connection for quantum time complexity. In particular, we show how to convert a quantum algorithm for f with time complexity T into a span program for f such that it compiles back into a quantum algorithm for f with time complexity O(T). While the query complexity of quantum algorithms obtained from span programs is well-understood, it is not generally clear how to implement certain query-independent operations in a time-efficient manner. We show that for span programs derived from algorithms with a time-efficient implementation, we can preserve the time efficiency when implementing the span program. This means in particular that span programs not only fully capture quantum query complexity, but also quantum time complexity. One practical advantage of being able to convert quantum algorithms to span programs in a way that preserves time complexity is that span programs compose very nicely. We demonstrate this by improving Ambainis's variable-time quantum search result using our construction through a span program composition for the OR function.


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