Abstract

The subject of this thesis, quantum estimation theory, is inspired by recent developments, both practical and theoretical, in the new field of quantum information and computation. The main task of quantum estimation theory, the subject of this thesis, is that given many identical copies of an unknown quantum system one
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wants to "guess" or estimate what the system is. This is done by performing an "optimal" measurement and analyzing the data obtained from it.
A quantum state is represented by a density matrix. In some cases one does not need to know the whole density matrix, sometimes a partial characterization is enough. Chapter 2 of this thesis is about optimally estimating the spectrum, i.e. the eigenvalues, of a density matrix. This is useful, for example, for estimating the entanglement of a bipartite pure state. The results of chapter 2 tell us that one can optimally estimate bipartite entanglement with LOCC measurements on one of the two parties.
Unitary operations transform density matrices to density matrices. They are the gates of quantum information processing. Suppose one has one such unitary operation but one does not know what it does. In order to characterize it one needs to know how it transforms any input state. In order to know how a particular state is transformed, one can prepare that state, feed it to the unitary many times, and measure the output. One state is, of course, not enough. It turns out that the unitary can be completely characterized with a finite set of states, this is known as quantum process tomography. Unfortunately, in many cases it is difficult to have available in the lab all the input states needed to perform quantum process tomography. It is here where entanglement comes to the rescue. One pair of maximally entangled qubits, where one of them is used as input for the unitary gate and the other is left untouched, is sufficient. All the information about the unknown gate is contained in the joint output state. This is the problem treated in chapter 3. Now the output state needs to be measured. Again, one could measure the two qubits separately (LOCC) or jointly (collective measurement). Is there anything to gain by performing joint measurements? The answer is yes, optimal collective measurements are at least 3 times more accurate than any LOCC measurement.
Chapter 4 treats the problem of estimating commuting unitary gates. There it is shown that this extra information makes it unnecessary to use an entangled input state and to use collective measurements at the output.
In chapters 3 and 4 it is assumed that only one copy of the unitary gate is available. If, however, more than one copy (say N ) are available at the same time one could use an N-fold entangled state as input. If no entanglement is used, classical statistics tells us that the error of the estimation is proportional to 1/√N. In the literature, it has been shown that by using an entangled state in the input one can achieve an error proportional to 1/N. However, this has been shown only for qubit gates. In chapter 5 important steps are taken in the direction of showing the same thing for a general unitary gate, but this remains an open problem.
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