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Transcript
Black Holes, Firewalls, and the
Complexity of States and Unitaries
Scott Aaronson (MIT)
Papers and slides at www.scottaaronson.com
My Starting Point
PHYSICS
BLACK HOLES,
AdS/CFT
(Today’s talk)
AND
MORE!
BOSONS & FERMIONS
(Cf. my talk at IQC yesterday)
QUANTUM
COMPUTING
COMPUTER
SCIENCE
Black Holes and Computational
Complexity??
QAM
AM
QSZK
SZK
BQP
BPP
YES!
Amazing connection made last year by Harlow & Hayden
But first, let’s review 40 years of black hole history
Bekenstein, Hawking 1970s: Black holes have entropy and
temperature! They emit radiation
The Information Loss Problem: Calculations suggest that
Hawking radiation is thermal—uncorrelated with whatever
fell in. So, is infalling information lost forever? Would seem
to violate the unitarity / reversibility of QM
OK then, assume the information somehow gets out!
The Xeroxing Problem: How could the same qubit | fall
inexorably toward the singularity, and emerge in Hawking
radiation? Would violate the No-Cloning Theorem
Black Hole Complementarity (Susskind, ‘t Hooft): An external
observer can describe everything unitarily without including
the interior at all! Interior should be seen as “just a
scrambled re-encoding” of the exterior degrees of freedom
The Firewall Paradox (AMPS 2012)
R = Faraway Hawking Radiation
B = Just-Emitted Hawking Radiation
Near-maximal
entanglement
H = Interior
of “Old”
Black Hole
Also near-maximal
entanglement
Violates monogamy of entanglement! The same
qubit can’t be maximally entangled with 2 things
Harlow-Hayden 2013 (arXiv:1301.4504): Striking argument
that Alice’s first task, decoding the entanglement
between R and B, would take exponential time—by which
point, the black hole would’ve long ago evaporated
anyway
Complexity theory to the rescue of quantum field
theory?
Are we saying that an inconsistency in the laws of physics
is OK, as long as it takes exponential time to discover it?
NO!
“Inconsistency” is only in low-energy effective field
theories; question is in what regimes they break down
Caveats of Complexity Arguments
1. Asymptotic
E.g., 88 chess takes O(1) time! Only for nn chess can we
give evidence of hardness. But for black holes, n1070…
2. (Usually) Conjectural
Right now, we can’t even prove P≠NP! To get where we
want, we almost always need to make assumptions.
Question is, which assumptions?
3. Worst-Case
We can argue that a natural formalization of Alice’s
decoding task is “generically” hard. We can’t rule out that
a future quantum gravity theory would make her task easy,
for deep reasons not captured by our formalization.
Quantum Circuits
The HH Decoding Problem
Given a description of a quantum circuit C, such that
C0
n

RBH
Promised that, by acting only on R (the “Hawking
radiation part”), it’s possible to distill an EPR pair
0 0 11
2
between R and B
Problem: Distill such an EPR pair, by applying a unitary
transformation UR to the qubits in R
Isn’t the Decoding Task Trivial?
Just invert C!
Problem: That would require waiting until the black
hole was fully evaporated ( no more firewall problem)
When the BH is “merely” >50% evaporated, we know
from a dimension-counting argument that “generically,”
there will exist a UR that distills an EPR pair between R
and B
But interestingly, this argument doesn’t suggest any
efficient procedure to find UR or apply it!
The HH Hardness Result
Set Equality: Given two efficiently-computable injective
functions f,g:{0,1}n{0,1}p(n). Promised that Range(f) and
Range(g) are either equal or disjoint. Decide which.
In the “black-box” setting, this problem takes exp(n) time
even with a quantum computer (a main result from my 2004
PhD thesis, the “collision lower bound”). Even in non-blackbox setting, would let us solve e.g. Graph Isomorphism
Theorem (Harlow-Hayden): Suppose there’s a
polynomial-time quantum algorithm for HH decoding.
Then there’s also a polynomial-time quantum algorithm
for Set Equality!
The HH Construction

RBH

1
2n1
  x,0
x0,1n
R
0
B
f x 
H
 x,1 R 1 B g x 
H

(easy to prepare in poly(n) time given f,g)
Intuition: If Range(f) and Range(g) are disjoint, then the H
register decoheres all entanglement between R and B,
leaving only classical correlation
If, on the other hand, Range(f)=Range(g), then there’s
some permutation of the |x,1R states that puts the last
qubit of R into an EPR pair with B
Thus, if we had a reliable way to distill EPR pairs whenever
possible, then we could also decide Set Equality
My strengthening: Harlow-Hayden decoding is as
hard as inverting an arbitrary one-way function

RBH

1
2
2 n 1
 f x, s, a x  s   a
x , s0,1 , a0,1
n
R
B
x, s
R: “old” Hawking photons / B: photons just coming out / H: still in black hole
B is maximally entangled with the last qubit of R. But in
order to see that B and R are even classically correlated,
one would need to learn xs (a “hardcore bit” of f), and
therefore invert f
Is computational intractability the only
“armor” protecting the geometry of
spacetime inside the black hole?
H
Quantum Circuit Complexity and Wormholes
[A.-Susskind, in progress]
The AdS/CFT correspondence relates antideSitter quantum gravity in D spacetime
dimensions to conformal field theories
(without gravity) in D-1 dimensions
But the mapping is extremely nonlocal!
It was recently found that an expanding wormhole, on the
AdS side, maps to a collection of qubits on the CFT side that
just seems to get more and more “complex”:
 00  11
 t  I  U 
2

t




n
Question: What function of |t can we point to on the CFT
side, that’s “dual” to wormhole length on the AdS side?
Susskind’s Proposal: The quantum circuit complexity C(|t)—
that is, the number of gates in the smallest circuit that
prepares |t from |0n
(Not clear if it’s right, but has survived some nontrivial tests)
2n
C(|t)
0
0
Time t
2n
But does C(|t) actually increase like this, for natural
scrambling dynamics U?
Theorem: Suppose U implements (say) a computationallyuniversal, reversible cellular automaton. Then after
t=exp(n) iterations, C(|t) is superpolynomial in n, unless
something very unlikely happens with complexity classes
(PSPACEPP/poly)
Proof Sketch: I proved in 2004 that PP=PostBQP
Suppose C(|t)=nO(1). Then we could give a description of C
as advice to a PostBQP machine, and the machine could
Also have results for approximate circuit
efficiently prepare
1 and more t
complexity, C(|t)exp(n),
x U

Note that some complexity
2 assumption
t 
n/2
x0,1n
x
must be made to lower-bound C(|t)
The machine could then measure the first register, postselect
on some |x of interest, then measure the second register to
learn Ut|x—thereby solving a PSPACE-complete problem!
A Favorite Research Direction
Understand, more systematically, the quantum circuit
complexity of preparing n-qubit states and applying
unitary transformations (“not just for quantum gravity! also
for quantum algorithms, quantum money, and so much more”)
Example question: For every n-qubit unitary U, is there a
Boolean function f such that U can be realized by a
polynomial-time quantum algorithm with an oracle for f?
(I’m giving you any computational capability f you
could possibly want—but it’s still far from obvious
how to get the physical capability U!)
Easy to show: For every n-qubit state |, there’s a
Boolean function f such that | can be prepared by a
polynomial-time quantum algorithm with an oracle for f
A Related Grand Challenge
Can we classify all possible sets of quantum gates acting
on qubits, in terms of which unitary transformations they
approximately generate?
“Quantum Computing’s Classification of Finite Simple Groups”
Warmup: Classify all the possible Hamiltonians / Lie
algebras. Even just on 1 and 2 qubits!
A.-Bouland 2014: Every nontrivial two-mode beamsplitter
is universal
Baby case that already took lots of representation theory…
The Classical Case
A.-Grier-Schaefer 2015:
Classified all sets of reversible
gates in terms of which
reversible transformations
F:{0,1}n{0,1}n they generate
(assuming swaps and ancilla bits
are free)
CNOT
Toffoli
Fredkin
Schaeffer
2014: The first
known
“physicallyuniversal”
cellular
automaton
(able to implement
any transformation
in any bounded
region, by suitably
initializing the
complement of
that region)
Solved open
problem of
Janzing 2010
Bonus: Rise and Fall of Complexity in
Closed Thermodynamic Systems
Unlike entropy, “interesting structure” seems to first
increase and then decrease as systems mix to equilibrium
Sean Carroll’s example:
“Apparent Complexity”: Entropy (as
measured, e.g., by compressed file size) of
a coarse-grained version of the image
But how to quantify this pattern?
The Coffee Automaton
A., Carroll, Mohan, Ouellette, Werness 2015: A probabilistic
nn reversible system that starts half “coffee” and half
“cream.” At each time step, we randomly “shear” half the
coffee cup horizontally or vertically (assuming a toroidal cup)
Compressed File Size
We prove that the apparent
complexity of this image has
a rising-falling pattern, with a
maximum of at least ~n1/6
500
450
400
350
300
250
200
150
100
50
0
-100
100
300
500
Time Steps
700
900
Summary
Quantum computing established a remarkable intellectual
bridge between computer science and physics
That’s always been why I’ve cared! Actual devices would be a bonus
My research agenda: to see just how much weight this
bridge can carry
Rebuilding physics in the language of computation won’t
be nearly as easy as some people (e.g., Wolfram) have
thought! Not only does it require engaging our actual
understanding of physics (QM, QFT, AdS/CFT…); it requires
hard mathematical work, often making new demands on
theoretical computer science
But I think it’s ultimately possible