Span programs are an important model of quantum computation due to their correspondence with quantum query and space complexity. While the query complexity of quantum algorithms obtained from span programs is well-understood, it is not generally clear how to implement certain query-independent operations in a time-efficient manner. In this work, we prove an analogous connection for quantum time complexity. In particular, we show how to convert a sufficiently-structured quantum algorithm for f with time complexity T into a span program for f such that it compiles back into a quantum algorithm for f with time complexity Õ(T). This shows that for span programs derived from algorithms with a time-efficient implementation, we can preserve the time efficiency when implementing the span program, which means that span programs capture time, query and space complexities and are a complete model of quantum algorithms. One practical advantage of being able to convert quantum algorithms to span programs in a way that preserves time complexity is that span programs compose very nicely. We demonstrate this by improving Ambainis's variable-time quantum search result using our construction through a span program composition for the OR function.

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45th International Symposium on Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science, MFCS 2020
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Amsterdam (CWI), The Netherlands

Cornelissen, A.J, Jeffery, S, Ozols, M, & Piedrafita Postigo, A. (2020). Span programs and quantum time complexity. In Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics, LIPIcs. doi:10.4230/LIPIcs.MFCS.2020.26