Characterization of solvable spin models via graph invariants

Adrian Chapman and Steven T. Flammia

Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems, School of Physics, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

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Abstract

Exactly solvable models are essential in physics. For many-body spin-$\mathbf{\sf{1}/{2}}$ systems, an important class of such models consists of those that can be mapped to free fermions hopping on a graph. We provide a complete characterization of models which can be solved this way. Specifically, we reduce the problem of recognizing such spin models to the graph-theoretic problem of recognizing line graphs, which has been solved optimally. A corollary of our result is a complete set of constant-sized commutation structures that constitute the obstructions to a free-fermion solution. We find that symmetries are tightly constrained in these models. Pauli symmetries correspond to either: (i) cycles on the fermion hopping graph, (ii) the fermion parity operator, or (iii) logically encoded qubits. Clifford symmetries within one of these symmetry sectors, with three exceptions, must be symmetries of the free-fermion model itself. We demonstrate how several exact free-fermion solutions from the literature fit into our formalism and give an explicit example of a new model previously unknown to be solvable by free fermions.

An important situation in theoretical physics, called a duality, occurs when the behaviors of two physical systems perfectly coincide. A physical system is any isolated section of the universe, such as a collection of gas particles in a box, or vibrational waves traveling along a guitar string. A duality between two systems allows physicists to talk about the physics of one system in terms of the other system. Systems which are related in this way can be surprisingly different, and finding dualities is often a key step to understanding the behaviors of both. In the scenarios where one system looks very complicated, the other system can be very simple, and vice versa. By thinking in terms of the simpler system, physicists can bypass a great deal of complexity to understand the more complicated one.

In this work, we examine a certain class of dualites between two systems: quantum spin lattices and noninteracting fermions. A spin lattice consists of many interacting compass needles, or spins, arranged in some structure. Each spin feels the competing, or “frustrating”, influence from many different nearby spins, making the behavior of this model appear very complicated. A noninteracting fermion system consists of particles hopping between sites in a similarly discrete arrangement. Because the particles are fermions, they cannot occupy the same site, but they otherwise do not influence each other. In contrast to the spin model, the noninteracting nature of the fermion model makes it much simpler to work with. By considering the precise frustration structure of the spin model as a kind of network, we apply tools from network theory to find collections of spins which behave like emergent fermions, allowing us to extract the behavior of these complicated models in terms of the simpler noninteracting fermions. Though these types of dualities have been explored in the past, we developed a new framework to systematically find them. We expect these results to lead to the design of new quantum materials for the development of a quantum computer.

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