The BQP-hardness of approximating the Jones polynomial

Dorit Aharonov, Itai Arad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


A celebrated important result due to Freedman et al (2002 Commun. Math. Phys. 227 605-22) states that providing additive approximations of the Jones polynomial at the kth root of unity, for constant k = 5 and k ≤ 7, is BQP-hard. Together with the algorithmic results of Aharonov et al (2005) and Freedman et al (2002 Commun. Math. Phys. 227 587-603), this gives perhaps the most natural BQP-complete problem known today and motivates further study of the topic. In this paper, we focus on the universality proof; we extend the result of Freedman et al (2002) to ks that grow polynomially with the number of strands and crossings in the link, thus extending the BQP-hardness of Jones polynomial approximations to all values to which the AJL algorithm applies (Aharonov et al 2005), proving that for all those values, the problems are BQPcomplete. As a side benefit, we derive a fairly elementary proof of the Freedman et al density result, without referring to advanced results from Lie algebra representation theory, making this important result accessible to a wider audience in the computer science research community. We make use of two general lemmas we prove, the bridge lemma and the decoupling lemma, which provide tools for establishing the density of subgroups in SU(n). Those tools seem to be of independent interest in more general contexts of proving the quantum universality. Our result also implies a completely classical statement, that the multiplicative approximations of the Jones polynomial, at exactly the same values, are #P-hard, via a recent result due to Kuperberg (2009 arXiv:0908.0512). Since the first publication of those results in their preliminary form (Aharonov and Arad 2006 arXiv:quant-ph/0605181), the methods we present here have been used in several other contexts (Aharonov and Arad 2007 arXiv:quant-ph/0702008;

Original languageAmerican English
Article number035019
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - Mar 2011


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