On the Relation Between Quantum Computational Speedup and Retrocausality

Giuseppe Castagnoli


We investigate the reason for the quantum speedup (quantum algorithms require fewer computation steps than their classical counterparts). We extend the representation of the quantum algorithm to the process of setting the problem, namely choosing the function computed by the black box. The initial measurement selects a setting at random, Bob (the problem setter) unitarily changes it into the desired one. With reference to the observer dependent quantum states of relational quantum mechanics, this representation is with respect to Bob and any external observer, it cannot be with respect to Alice (the problem solver). It would tell her the function computed by the black box, which to her should be hidden. To Alice, the projection of the quantum state due to the initial measurement is retarded at the end of her problem solving action, so that the algorithm input state remains one of complete ignorance of the setting. By black box computations, she unitarily sends it into the output state that, for each possible setting, encodes the corresponding solution, acquired by the final measurement. Mathematically, we can ascribe to the final measurement the selection of any fraction R of the random outcome of the initial measurement. This projects the input state to Alice on one of lower entropy where she knows the corresponding fraction of the problem setting. Given the appropriate value of R, the quantum algorithm is a sum over classical histories in each of which Alice, knowing in advance one of the R-th parts of the setting, performs the black box computations still required to identify the solution. Given a quantum algorithm, this retrocausality model provides the value of R that explains its speed up; in the major quantum algorithms, R is 1/2 or slightly above it. Conversely, given the problem, R=1/2 always yields the order of magnitude of the number of black box computations required to solve it in an optimal quantum way.

Quanta 2016; 5: 34–52.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12743/quanta.v5i1.38

ISSN: 1314-7374