Physics & Astronomy ETDs

Publication Date



This thesis is a collection of ideas with the general goal of building, at least in the abstract, a local fault-tolerant quantum computer. The connection between quantum information and topology has proven to be an active area of research in several fields. The introduction of the toric code by Alexei Kitaev demonstrated the usefulness of topology for quantum memory and quantum computation. Many quantum codes used for quantum memory are modeled by spin systems on a lattice, with operators that extract syndrome information placed on vertices or faces of the lattice. It is natural to wonder whether the useful codes in such systems can be classified. This thesis presents work that leverages ideas from topology and graph theory to explore the space of such codes. Homological stabilizer codes are introduced and it is shown that, under a set of reasonable assumptions, any qubit homological stabilizer code is equivalent to either a toric code or a color code. Additionally, the toric code and the color code correspond to distinct classes of graphs. Many systems have been proposed as candidate quantum computers. It is very desirable to design quantum computing architectures with two-dimensional layouts and low complexity in parity-checking circuitry. Kitaev's surface codes provided the first example of codes satisfying this property. They provided a new route to fault tolerance with more modest overheads and thresholds approaching 1%. The recently discovered color codes share many properties with the surface codes, such as the ability to perform syndrome extraction locally in two dimensions. Some families of color codes admit a transversal implementation of the entire Clifford group. This work investigates color codes on the 4.8.8 lattice known as triangular codes. I develop a fault-tolerant error-correction strategy for these codes in which repeated syndrome measurements on this lattice generate a three-dimensional space-time combinatorial structure. I then develop an integer program that analyzes this structure and determines the most likely set of errors consistent with the observed syndrome values. I implement this integer program to find the threshold for depolarizing noise on small versions of these triangular codes. Because the threshold for magic-state distillation is likely to be higher than this value and because logical CNOT gates can be performed by code deformation in a single block instead of between pairs of blocks, the threshold for fault-tolerant quantum memory for these codes is also the threshold for fault-tolerant quantum computation with them. Since the advent of a threshold theorem for quantum computers much has been improved upon. Thresholds have increased, architectures have become more local, and gate sets have been simplified. The overhead for magic-state distillation has been studied, but not nearly to the extent of the aforementioned topics. A method for greatly reducing this overhead, known as reusable magic states, is studied here. While examples of reusable magic states exist for Clifford gates, I give strong reasons to believe they do not exist for non-Clifford gates.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Physics & Astronomy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Deutsch, Ivan

Second Committee Member

Loring, Terry




Quantum computers, Low-dimensional topology, Fault-tolerant computing, Clifford algebras.

Document Type