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Title: Logical and topological contextuality in quantum mechanics and beyond
Author: Caru, Giovanni
ISNI:       0000 0004 8503 4364
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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The main subjects of this thesis are non-locality and contextuality, two fundamental features of quantum mechanics that constitute valuable resources for quantum computation. Our analysis is based on Abramsky & Brandenburger's sheaf theoretic framework, which captures both these phenomena in a unified treatment and in a very general setting. This high-level description transcends quantum physics and allows to precisely characterise the notion of contextuality as the apparent paradox realised by data being locally consistent but globally inconsistent. More specifically, we aim to develop a deeper understanding of so-called logical forms of contextuality, i.e. situations where the phenomenon can be witnessed using purely logical arguments, disregarding probabilities. The sheaf theoretic description of logical contextuality has recently inspired the development of a topological treatment of the phenomenon based on sheaf cohomology. In this thesis, we embark on a detailed analysis of the cohomology of contextuality, exposing key shortcomings in the current methods, and introducing an (almost) complete cohomological characterisation of logical forms of contextuality. More specifically, we show that, in its current formulation, sheaf cohomology does not constitute a complete invariant for contextuality, not even in its strongest forms, and that higher cohomology groups cannot be used to study the phenomenon. Then, we solve these issues by introducing a novel construction, which derives refined versions of the presheaves describing empirical models to expose their deeper extendability properties, resulting in a sheaf cohomological invariant which is applicable to the vast majority of empirical models, and conjectured to work universally. We propose a general theory of contextual semantics using the language of valuation algebras. In particular, we give a general definition of contextual behaviour as a fundamental gap between local agreement and global disagreement of information sources. Not only does this formalism aptly capture and generalise the known instances of contextuality beyond quantum theory, but it also provides inspiration for further applications of the phenomenon, and paves the way for the transfer of results and techniques between different fields. We give a prime example of this potential by developing faster algorithms to detect contextuality based on mainstream methods of generic inference. Finally, we turn our attention back to instances of contextuality in quantum physics, and study strong contextuality in multi-qubit states. We give a complete combinatorial characterisation of All-vs-Nothing proofs of strong contextuality in stabiliser quantum mechanics. This allows to produce the complete list of all stabiliser states exhibiting this kind of contextuality, which consitututes an important resource in certain models of quantum computation. Then, we extend our search for strongly contextual behaviour beyond stabiliser states, and identify the minimum quantum resources needed to realise strong non-locality. Additional results include a partial classification of strongly non-local models comprised of three-qubit states and local projective measurements, and the introduction of a new infinite family of strongly non-local three-qubit states.
Supervisor: Abramsky, Samson Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ; Oxford-Google DeepMind Graduate Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Quantum theory ; Algebraic topology ; Computer science