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Histogram based Tomography


Quantum states generally encode information about several different mutually incompatible (non-commuting) sets of observables. A given quantum process including final measurement of all qubits will therefore only yield partial information about the pre-measurement state even if the measurement is repeated many times.

To access the information the state contains about other, non-compatible observables, one can apply unitary rotations before measuring. Assuming these rotations are done perfectly, the resulting measurements can be interpreted being of the un-rotated state but with rotated observables.

Quantum tomography is a method that formalizes this procedure and allows to use a complete or overcomplete set of pre-measurement rotations to fully characterize all matrix elements of the density matrix.


Consider a density matrix \rho=\begin{pmatrix} 0.3 & 0.2i\\ -0.2i & 0.7\end{pmatrix}.

Let us assume that our quantum processor's projective measurement yields perfect outcomes z in the Z basis, either z=+1 or z=-1. Then the density matrix \rho will give outcome z=+1 with probability p=30% and z=-1 with p=70%, respectively. Consequently, if we repeat the Z-measurement many times, we can estimate the diagonal coefficients of the density matrix. To access the off-diagonals, however, we need to measure different observables such as X or Y.

If we rotate the state as \rho\mapsto U\rho U^\dagger and then do our usual Z-basis measurement, then this is equivalent to rotating the measured observable as Z \mapsto U^\dagger Z U and keeping our state \rho unchanged. This second point of view then allows us to see that if we apply a rotation such as U=R_y(\pi/2) then this rotates the observable as R_y(-\pi/2)ZR_y(+\pi/2)=\cos(\pi/2) Z - \sin(\pi/2) X = -X. Similarly, we could rotate by U=R_x(\pi/2) to measure the Y observable. Overall, we can construct a sequence of different circuits with outcome statistics that depend on all elements of the density matrix and that allow to estimate them using techniques such as maximum likelihood estimation ([MLE]).

We have visualized this in :ref:`Figure 1 <state-tomo-fig>`.

Visualization of state preparation circuit and appended tomographic rotations.

Figure 1: This upper half of this diagram shows a simple 2-qubit quantum program consisting of both qubits initialized in the \ket{0} state, then transformed to some other state via a process V and finally measured in the natural qubit basis.

On occasion we may also wish to estimate precisely what physical process a particular control/gate sequence realizes. This is done by a slight extension of the above scheme that also introduces pre-rotations that prepare different initial states, then act on these with the unknown map V and finally append post-rotations to fully determine the state that each initial state was mapped to. This is visualized in :ref:`Figure 2 <process-tomo-fig>`.

Visualization of prepended and appended tomographic rotations to some circuit `V`.

Figure 2: For process tomography, rotations must be prepended and appended to fully resolve the action of V on arbitrary initial states.

The following sections formally define and introduce our tomography methods in full technical detail. Grove also contains an example notebook with tomography results obtained from the QPU. A rendered version of this can be found in example_code.

Useful notation and definitions

In the following we use ‘super-ket’ notation {\left|\left. \rho \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} := {\text{vec}\left(\hat\rho\right)} where {\text{vec}\left(\hat\rho\right)} is a density operator \hat\rho collapsed to a single vector by stacking its columns. The standard basis in this space is given by \{{\left|\left. j \right\rangle\!\right\rangle},\; j=0,1,2\dots, d^2-1\}, where j=f(k,l) is a multi-index enumerating the elements of a d-dimensional matrix row-wise, i.e. j=0 \Leftrightarrow (k,l)=(0,0), j=1 \Leftrightarrow (k,l)=(0,1), etc. The super-ket {\left|\left. j \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} then corresponds to the operator \ket{k}\bra{l}.

We similarly define {\left\langle\!\left\langle \rho \right.\right|} := {\text{vec}\left(\hat\rho\right)}^\dagger such that the inner product {\left\langle\!\left\langle \chi | \rho \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} = {\text{vec}\left(\hat\chi\right)}^\dagger {\text{vec}\left(\hat\rho\right)} = \sum_{j,k=0}^{d^2-1} \chi_{jk}^\ast\rho_{jk} = {\mathrm{Tr}\left(\hat{\chi}^\dagger \hat\rho\right)} equals the Hilbert-Schmidt inner product. If \rho is a physical density matrix and \hat{\chi} a Hermitian observable, this also equals its expectation value. When a state is represented as a super-ket, we can represent super-operators acting on them as \Lambda \to \tilde{\Lambda}, i.e., we write {\left|\left. \Lambda(\hat\rho) \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} = \tilde{\Lambda}{\left|\left. \rho \right\rangle\!\right\rangle}.

We introduce an orthonormal, Hermitian basis for a single qubit in terms of the Pauli operators and the identity {\left|\left. P_j \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} := {\text{vec}\left(\hat P_j\right)} for j=0,1,2,3, where \hat P_0 = \mathbb{\hat I}/\sqrt{2} and \hat P_k=\sigma_{k}/\sqrt{2} for k=1,2,3. These satisfy {\left\langle\!\left\langle P_l | P_m \right\rangle\!\right\rangle}=\delta_{lm} for l,m=0,1,2,3. For multi-qubit states, the generalization to a tensor-product basis representation carries over straightforwardly. The normalization 1/\sqrt{2} is generalized to 1/\sqrt{d} for a d-dimensional space. In the following we assume no particular size of the system.

We can then express both states and observables in terms of linear combinations of Pauli-basis super-kets and super-bras, respectively, and they will have real valued coefficients due to the hermiticity of the Pauli operator basis. Starting from an initial state \rho we can apply a completely positive map to it

       \hat \rho' = \Lambda_K(\hat\rho) =  \sum_{j=1}^n \hat K_j\hat \rho \hat K_j^\dagger.\end{aligned}

A Kraus map is always completely positive and additionally is trace preserving if \sum_{j=1}^n \hat K_j^\dagger \hat K_j = \hat I. We can expand a given map \Lambda(\hat\rho) in terms of the Pauli basis by exploiting that \sum_{j=0}^{d^2-1} {\left|\left. j \right\rangle\!\right\rangle}{\left\langle\!\left\langle j \right.\right|} = \sum_{j=0}^{d^2-1} {\left|\left. \hat P_j \right\rangle\!\right\rangle}{\left\langle\!\left\langle \hat P_j \right.\right|} = \hat{I} where \hat{I} is the super-identity map.

For any given map \Lambda(\cdot), \mathcal{B} \rightarrow \mathcal{B}, where \mathcal{B} is the space of bounded operators, we can compute its Pauli-transfer matrix as

        (\mathcal{R}_\Lambda)_{jk} := {\mathrm{Tr}\left(\hat P_j \Lambda(\hat P_k)\right)},\quad j,k=0,1,,\dots, d^2-1.\end{aligned}

In contrast to [Chow], our tomography method does not rely on a measurement with continuous outcomes but rather discrete POVM outcomes j \in \{0,1,\dots, d-1\}, where d is the dimension of the underlying Hilbert space. In the case of perfect readout fidelity the POVM outcome j coincides with a projective outcome of having measured the basis state \ket{j}. For imperfect measurements, we can falsely register outcomes of type k\ne j even if the physical state before measurement was \ket{j}. This is quantitatively captured by the readout POVM. Any detection scheme—including the actual readout and subsequent signal processing and classification step to a discrete bitstring outcome—can be characterized by its confusion rate matrix, which provides the conditional probabilities p(j|k):= p(detected j \mid prepared k) of detected outcome j given a perfect preparation of basis state \ket{k}

     P = \begin{pmatrix}
            p(0 | 0)   & p(0 | 1)   & \cdots & p(0 | {d-1})  \\
            p(1 | 0)   & p(1 | 1)   & \cdots & p(1 | {d-1})  \\
            \vdots       &              &        & \vdots          \\
            p(d-1 | 0) & p(d-1 | 1) & \cdots & p(d-1 | {d-1})

The trace of the confusion rate matrix ([ConfusionMatrix]) divided by the number of states F:={\mathrm{Tr}\left( P\right)}/d = \sum_{j=0}^{d-1} p(j|j)/d gives the joint assignment fidelity of our simultaneous qubit readout [Jeffrey], [Magesan]. Given the coefficients appearing in the confusion rate matrix the equivalent readout [POVM] is

    \hat N_j := \sum_{k=0}^{d-1} p(j | k) \hat\Pi_{k}\end{aligned}

where we have introduced the bitstring projectors \hat \Pi_{k}=\ket{k}\bra{k}. We can immediately see that \hat N_j\ge 0 for all j, and verify the normalization

    \sum_{j=0}^{d-1}\hat N_j = \sum_{k=0}^{d-1} \underbrace{\sum_{j=0}^{d-1} p(j | k)}_{1} \hat \Pi_{k}
    = \sum_{k=0}^{d-1} \hat \Pi_{k} = \mathbb{\hat I}\end{aligned}

where \mathbb{\hat I} is the identity operator.

State tomography

For state tomography, we use a control sequence to prepare a state \rho and then apply d^2 different post-rotations \hat R_k to our state \rho \mapsto \Lambda_{R_k}(\hat \rho) := \hat R_k\hat\rho \hat R_k^\dagger such that {\text{vec}\left(\Lambda_{R_k}(\hat \rho)\right)} = \tilde{\Lambda}_{R_k} {\left|\left. \rho \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} and subsequently measure it in our given measurement basis. We assume that subsequent measurements are independent which implies that the relevant statistics for our Maximum-Likelihood-Estimator (MLE) are the histograms of measured POVM outcomes for each prepared state:

        n_{jk} := \text{ number of outcomes } j \text{ for an initial state } \tilde{\Lambda}_{R_k} {\left|\left. \rho \right\rangle\!\right\rangle}\end{aligned}

If we measure a total of n_k = \sum_{j=0}^{d-1} n_{jk} shots for the pre-rotation \hat R_k the probability of obtaining the outcome h_k:=(n_{0k}, \dots, n_{(d-1)k}) is given by the multinomial distribution

        p(h_k) = {n_k \choose n_{0k} \; n_{1k} \; \cdots \; \; n_{(d-1)k}} p_{0k}^{n_{0k}} \cdots p_{(d-1)k}^{n_{(d-1)k}},\end{aligned}

where for fixed k the vector (p_{0k},\dots, p_{(d-1)k}) gives the single shot probability over the POVM outcomes for the prepared circuit. These probabilities are given by

        p_{jk} &:= {\left\langle\!\left\langle N_j \right.\right|}\tilde{\Lambda}_{R_k}{\left|\left. \rho \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} \\
        &= \sum_{m=0}^{d^2-1}\underbrace{\sum_{r=0}^{d^2-1}\pi_{jr}(\mathcal{\hat R}_{k})_{rm}}_{C_{jkm}}\rho_m \\
        &= \sum_{m=0}^{d^2-1} C_{jkm}\rho_m.

Here we have introduced \pi_{jl}:={\left\langle\!\left\langle N_j | P_l \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} = {\mathrm{Tr}\left(\hat N_j \hat P_l\right)}, (\mathcal{R}_{k})_{rm}:= {\left\langle\!\left\langle P_r \right.\right|}\tilde{\Lambda}_{R_k}{\left|\left. P_m \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} and \rho_m:= {\left\langle\!\left\langle P_m | \rho \right\rangle\!\right\rangle}. The POVM operators N_j = \sum_{k=0}^{d-1} p(j |k) \Pi_{k} are defined as above.

The joint log likelihood for the unknown coefficients \rho_m for all pre-measurement channels \mathcal{R}_k is given by

    \log L (\rho) = \sum_{j=0}^{d-1}\sum_{k=0}^{d^2-1} n_{jk}\log\left(\sum_{m=0}^{d^2-1} C_{jkm} \rho_m\right) + {\rm const}.\end{aligned}

Maximizing this is a convex problem and can be efficiently done even with constraints that enforce normalization {\mathrm{Tr}\left(\rho\right)}=1 and positivity \rho \ge 0.

Process Tomography

Process tomography introduces an additional index over the pre-rotations \hat R_l that act on a fixed initial state \rho_0. The result of each such preparation is then acted on by the process \tilde \Lambda that is to be inferred. This leads to a sequence of different states

\hat \rho^{(kl)}:= \hat R_k\Lambda(\hat R_l \rho_0 \hat R_l^\dagger)\hat R_k^\dagger \leftrightarrow {\left|\left. \rho^{(kl)} \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} = \tilde{\Lambda}_{R_k} \tilde{\Lambda} \tilde{\Lambda}_{R_l}{\left|\left. \rho_0 \right\rangle\!\right\rangle}.\end{aligned}

The joint histograms of all such preparations and final POVM outcomes is given by

    n_{jkl} := \text{ number of outcomes } j \text{ given input } {\left|\left. \rho^{(kl)} \right\rangle\!\right\rangle}.\end{aligned}

If we measure a total of n_{kl} = \sum_{j=0}^{d-1} n_{jkl} shots for the post-rotation k and pre-rotation l, the probability of obtaining the outcome m_{kl}:=(n_{0kl}, \dots, n_{(d-1)kl}) is given by the binomial

        p(m_{kl}) = {n_{kl} \choose n_{0kl} \; n_{1kl} \; \cdots \; \; n_{(d-1)kl}} p_{0kl}^{n_{0kl}} \cdots p_{(d-1)kl}^{n_{(d-1)kl}}\end{aligned}

where the single shot probabilities p_{jkl} of measuring outcome N_j for the post-channel k and pre-channel l are given by

        p_{jkl} &:= {\left\langle\!\left\langle N_j \right.\right|}\tilde{\Lambda}_{R_k} \tilde{\Lambda} \tilde{\Lambda}_{R_l}{\left|\left. \rho_0 \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} \\
        &= \sum_{m,n=0}^{d^2-1}\underbrace{\sum_{r,q=0}^{d^2-1}\pi_{jr}(\mathcal{R}_{k})_{rm} (\mathcal{R}_{l})_{nq} (\rho_0)_q}_{B_{jklmn}}(\mathcal{R})_{mn} \\
        &= \sum_{mn=0}^{d^2-1} B_{jklmn}(\mathcal{R})_{mn}

where \pi_{jl}:={\left\langle\!\left\langle N_j | l \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} = {\mathrm{Tr}\left(\hat N_j \hat P_l\right)} and (\rho_0)_q := {\left\langle\!\left\langle P_q | \rho_0 \right\rangle\!\right\rangle} = {\mathrm{Tr}\left(\hat P_q \hat \rho_0\right)} and the Pauli-transfer matrices for the pre and post rotations R_l and the unknown process are given by

        (\mathcal{R}_{l})_{nq} &:= {\mathrm{Tr}\left(\hat P_n \hat R_l \hat P_q \hat R_l^\dagger\right)}.\\
        \mathcal{R}_{mn} &:= {\mathrm{Tr}\left(\hat P_m \Lambda(\hat R_n)\right)}.\end{aligned}

The joint log likelihood for the unknown transfer matrix \mathcal{R} for all pre-rotations \mathcal{R}_l and post-rotations \mathcal{R}_k is given by

        \log L (\mathcal{R}) = \sum_{j=0}^{d-1} \sum_{kl=0}^{d^2-1} n_{jkl}\log\left(\sum_{mn=0}^{d^2-1} B_{jklmn} (\mathcal{R})_{mn}\right) + {\rm const}.\end{aligned}

Handling positivity constraints is achieved by constraining the associated Choi-matrix to be positive [Chow]. We can also constrain the estimated transfer matrix to preserve the trace of the mapped state by demanding that \mathcal{R}_{0l}=\delta_{0l}.

You can learn more about quantum channels here: [QuantumChannel].


Here we discuss some quantitative measures of comparing quantum states and processes.

For states

When comparing quantum states there are a variety of different measures of (in-)distinguishability, with each usually being the answer to a particular question, such as "With what probability can I distinguish two states in a single experiment?", or "How indistinguishable are measurement samples of two states going to be?".

A particularly easy to compute measure of indistinguishability is given by the quantum state fidelity, which for pure (and normalized) states is simply given by F(\phi, \psi)=|\braket{\phi}{\psi}|. The fidelity is 1 if and only if the two states are identical up to a scalar factor. It is zero when they are orthogonal. The generalization to mixed states takes the form

F(\rho, \sigma) := \tr{\sqrt{\sqrt{\rho}\sigma\sqrt{\rho}}}.

Although this is not obvious from the expression it is symmetric under exchange of the states. Read more about it here: [QuantumStateFidelity] Although one can use the infidelity 1-F as a distance measure, it is not a proper metric. It can be shown, however that the so called Bures-angle \theta _{{\rho \sigma }} implicitly defined via \cos\theta_{{\rho\sigma}}=F(\rho,\sigma) does yield a proper metric in the mathematical sense.

Another useful metric is given by the trace distance ([QuantumTraceDistance])

{\frac{1}{2}}{\mathrm {Tr}}\left[{\sqrt{(\rho-\sigma )^{\dagger}(\rho-\sigma)}}\right],

which is also a proper metric and provides the answer to the above posed question of what the maximum single shot probability is to distinguish states \rho and \sigma.

For processes

For processes the two most popular metrics are the average gate fidelity F_{\rm avg}(P, U) of an actual process P relative to some ideal unitary gate U. In some sense it measures the average fidelity (over all input states) by which a physical channel realizes the ideal operation. Given the Pauli transfer matrices \mathcal{R}_P and \mathcal{R}_U for the actual and ideal processes, respectively, the average gate fidelity ([Chow]) is

F_{\rm avg}(P, U) = \frac{\tr{\mathcal{R}_P^T\mathcal{R}_U}/d + 1}{d+1}

The corresponding infidelity 1-F_{\rm avg}(P, U) can be seen as a measure of the average gate error, but it is not a proper metric.

Another popular error metric is given by the diamond distance, which is a proper metric and has other nice properties that make it mathematically convenient for proving bounds on error thresholds, etc. It is given by the maximum trace distance between the ideal map and the actual map over all input states \rho that can generally feature entanglement with other ancillary degrees of freedom that U acts trivially on.

d(U,P)_\diamond = \mathrm{max}_\rho T\left((P\otimes I)[\rho], (U\otimes I)[\rho]\right)

In a sense, the diamond distance can be seen as a worst case error metric and it is particularly sensitive to coherent gate error, i.e., errors in which P is a (nearly) unitary process but deviates from U. See also these slides by Blume-Kohout et al. for more information [GST].

Further resources

[Chow](1, 2, 3) Chow et al.
[Jeffrey]Jeffrey et al.
[Magesan]Magesan et al.
[GST]Blume-Kohout et al.

Run tomography experiments

This is a rendered version of the example notebook. and provides some example applications of grove's tomography module.

from __future__ import print_function
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from mock import MagicMock
import json

import numpy as np
from grove.tomography.state_tomography import do_state_tomography
from grove.tomography.utils import notebook_mode
from grove.tomography.process_tomography import do_process_tomography

# get fancy TQDM progress bars

from pyquil.gates import CZ, RY
from pyquil.api import QVMConnection, QPUConnection, get_devices
from pyquil.quil import Program

%matplotlib inline


qvm = QVMConnection()
online_devices = [d for d in get_devices() if d.is_online()]
if online_devices:
    d = online_devices[0]
    qpu = QPUConnection(
    print("Found online device {}, making QPUConnection".format(
    qpu = QVMConnection()
Found online device 19Q-Acorn, making QPUConnection

Example Code

Create a Bell state

qubits = [6, 7]
bell_state_program = Program(RY(-np.pi/2, qubits[0]),
                             RY(np.pi/2, qubits[1]),
                             RY(-np.pi/2, qubits[1]))

Run on QPU & QVM, and calculate the fidelity

print("Running state tomography on the QPU...")
state_tomography_qpu, _, _ = do_state_tomography(bell_state_program, NUM_SAMPLES, qpu, qubits)
print("State tomography completed.")
print("Running state tomography on the QVM for reference...")
state_tomography_qvm, _, _ = do_state_tomography(bell_state_program, NUM_SAMPLES, qvm, qubits)
print("State tomography completed.")
Running state tomography on the QPU...
State tomography completed.
Running state tomography on the QVM for reference...
State tomography completed.
CPU times: user 1.18 s, sys: 84.2 ms, total: 1.27 s
Wall time: 4.6 s
state_fidelity =

    EPS = .01
    assert np.isclose(state_fidelity, 1, EPS)

qpu_plot = state_tomography_qpu.plot();
qpu_plot.text(0.35, 0.9, r'$Fidelity={:1.1f}\%$'.format(state_fidelity*100), size=20)




Process tomography

Perform process tomography on a controlled-Z (CZ) gate

qubits = [5, 6]
CZ_PROGRAM = Program([CZ(qubits[0], qubits[1])])
CZ 5 6
Run on the QPU & QVM, and calculate the fidelity
print("Running process tomography on the QPU...")
process_tomography_qpu, _, _ = do_process_tomography(CZ_PROGRAM, NUM_SAMPLES, qpu, qubits)
print("Process tomography completed.")
print("Running process tomography on the QVM for reference...")
process_tomography_qvm, _, _ = do_process_tomography(CZ_PROGRAM, NUM_SAMPLES, qvm, qubits)
print("Process tomography completed.")
Running process tomography on the QPU...
Process tomography completed.
Running process tomography on the QVM for reference...
Process tomography completed.
CPU times: user 16.4 s, sys: 491 ms, total: 16.8 s
Wall time: 57.4 s
process_fidelity = process_tomography_qpu.avg_gate_fidelity(process_tomography_qvm.r_est)

    EPS = .001
    assert np.isclose(process_fidelity, 1, EPS)

qpu_plot = process_tomography_qpu.plot();
qpu_plot.text(0.4, .95, r'$F_{{\rm avg}}={:1.1f}\%$'.format(process_fidelity*100), size=25)




Source Code Docs

.. automodule:: grove.tomography.tomography

.. automodule:: grove.tomography.state_tomography

.. automodule:: grove.tomography.process_tomography

.. automodule:: grove.tomography.operator_utils

.. automodule:: grove.tomography.utils