The classical complexity of Boson sampling

Peter Clifford, Raphael Clifford

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

75 Citations (Scopus)
477 Downloads (Pure)


We study the classical complexity of the exact Boson Sampling problem where the objective is to produce provably correct random samples from a particular quantum mechanical distribution. The computational framework was proposed in STOC ’11 by Aaronson and Arkhipov in 2011 as an attainable demonstration of ‘quantum supremacy’, that is a practical quantum computing experiment able
to produce output at a speed beyond the reach of classical (that is non-quantum) computer hardware. Since its introduction Boson Sampling has been the subject of intense international research in the world of quantum computing. On the face of it, the problem is challenging for classical computation.
Aaronson and Arkhipov show that exact Boson Sampling is not efficiently solvable by a classical computer unless P#P = BPPNP and the polynomial hierarchy collapses to the third level.
The fastest known exact classical algorithm for the standard Boson Sampling problem requires O((m+n−1n) n2n) time to produce samples for a system with input size n and m output modes, making it infeasible for anything but the smallest values of n and m. We give an algorithm that is much faster, running in O(n2n + poly(m, n)) time and O(m) additional space. The algorithm is simple to
implement and has low constant factor overheads. As a consequence our classical algorithm is able to solve the exact Boson Sampling problem for system sizes far beyond current photonic quantum computing experimentation, thereby significantly reducing the likelihood of achieving near-term quantum supremacy in the context of Boson Sampling.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA18)
EditorsArtur Czumaj
PublisherSociety for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781611975031
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'The classical complexity of Boson sampling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this