Feynman vs Schrödinger simulators

22 Sep 2020

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The two basic simulation algorithms: Schrödinger's state-vector algorithm and Feynman's path algorithm have their pros and cons. While Schrödinger's takes less time to run compared to Feynman's, it takes more space. Feynman's tradeoff is the opposite of Schrödinger's: Feynman's takes more time and less space. More precicely, Schrödinger's takes $~ m^{2n}$ time and $∼2^{n}$ space while Feynman's takes $~4^{m}$ time and $∼m+n$ space; where $n$ in the number of qubits and $m$ is the number of gates.

An $n$ qubit quantum computer takes in a quantum circuit $U$ that contains $m$ gates and an input state $\ket{0}^n$. It then outputs a string of bits $x \in \{0, 1\} ^n$ with probability $P(x_{m}) = |\bra{x_{m}}U\ket{0}^n|^2 $. In Schrödinger's algorithm $P(x_{m}) = |\bra{x_{m}}U_{m} U_{m-1} U_{m-2} U_{m-3}, ..., U_{1}\ket{0}^n|^2$; the state is kept track of for the entire computation. Contrasted with Feynman's algorithm, $P(x_{m}) = |\bra{x_{m}}U\ket{0}^n|^2 = |\sum_{x_{1}, x_{2}, x_{3}, ... ,x_{m-1} \in \{0, 1\}^n} \prod_{j=1}^{m} \bra{x_j}U_{j}\ket{x_{j-1}}|^2$

Feynman's algorithm saves space because it calculates an amplitude instead of keeping track of the state vector. Not being able to inspect a state vector for debugging purposes is a disadvantage of Feynman's algorithm.

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