POVMs are equivalent to projections for perfect state exclusion of three pure states in three dimensions

Abel Molina

Institute for Quantum Computing and School for Computer Science, University of Waterloo

Performing perfect/conclusive quantum state exclusion means to be able to discard with certainty at least one out of $n$ possible quantum state preparations by performing a measurement of the resulting state. This task of state exclusion has recently been studied at length in [4], and it is at the heart of the celebrated PBR thought experiment [30]. When all the preparations correspond to pure states and there are no more of them than their common dimension, it is an open problem whether POVMs give any additional power for this task with respect to projective measurements. This is the case even for the simple case of three states in three dimensions, which is mentioned in [10] as unsuccessfully tackled. In this paper, we give an analytical proof that in this case considering POVMs does indeed not give any additional power with respect to projective measurements. To do so, we first make without loss of generality some assumptions about the structure of an optimal POVM. The justification of these assumptions involves arguments based on convexity, rank and symmetry properties. We show then that any pure states perfectly excluded by such a POVM meet the conditions identified in [10] for perfect exclusion by a projective measurement of three pure states in three dimensions. We also discuss possible generalizations of our work, including an application of Quadratically Constrained Quadratic Programming that might be of special interest.

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