Complexity and order in approximate quantum error-correcting codes

TitleComplexity and order in approximate quantum error-correcting codes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsYi, J, Ye, W, Gottesman, D, Liu, Z-W
Date Published10/7/2023

We establish rigorous connections between quantum circuit complexity and approximate quantum error correction (AQEC) properties, covering both all-to-all and geometric scenarios including lattice systems. To this end, we introduce a type of code parameter that we call subsystem variance, which is closely related to the optimal AQEC precision. Our key finding is that if the subsystem variance is below an O(k/n) threshold then any state in the code subspace must obey certain circuit complexity lower bounds, which identify nontrivial ``phases'' of codes. Based on our results, we propose O(k/n) as a boundary between subspaces that should and should not count as AQEC codes. This theory of AQEC provides a versatile framework for understanding the quantum complexity and order of many-body quantum systems, offering new insights for wide-ranging physical scenarios, in particular topological order and critical quantum systems which are of outstanding importance in many-body and high energy physics. We observe from various different perspectives that roughly O(1/n) represents a common, physically significant ``scaling threshold'' of subsystem variance for features associated with nontrivial quantum order.