This is a list of Peter Selinger's papers, along with abstracts and hyperlinks.

The references are also available in BibTeX format.

See also:

On the combinatorial value of Hex positions

Manuscript, January 2021, 46 pages.

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Abstract: We develop a theory of combinatorial games that is appropriate for describing positions in Hex and other monotone set coloring games. We consider two natural conditions on such games: a game is monotone if all moves available to both players are good, and passable if in each position, at least one player has at least one good move available. The latter condition is equivalent to saying that if passing were permitted, no player would benefit from passing. Clearly every monotone game is passable, and we prove that the converse holds up to equivalence of games. We give some examples of how this theory can be applied to the analysis of Hex positions.

Linear dependent type theory for quantum programming languages

With Peng Fu and Kohei Kishida. In Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM/IEEE Symposium on Logic in Computer Science (LICS 2020), Saarbrücken, Germany, pp. 440–453, 2020.

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A video of our talk is also available: Video.

Abstract: Modern quantum programming languages integrate quantum resources and classical control. They must, on the one hand, be linearly typed to reflect the no-cloning property of quantum resources. On the other hand, high-level and practical languages should also support quantum circuits as first-class citizens, as well as families of circuits that are indexed by some classical parameters. Quantum programming languages thus need linear dependent type theory. This paper defines a general semantic structure for such a type theory via certain fibrations of monoidal categories. The categorical model of the quantum circuit description language Proto-Quipper-M by Rios and Selinger constitutes an example of such a fibration, which means that the language can readily be integrated with dependent types. We then devise both a general linear dependent type system and a dependently typed extension of Proto-Quipper-M, and provide them with operational semantics as well as a prototype implementation.

A tutorial introduction to quantum circuit programming in dependently typed Proto-Quipper

With Peng Fu, Kohei Kishida, and Neil J. Ross. In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Reversible Computation (RC 2020), Oslo, Norway, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 12227:153–168, Springer, 2020.

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Abstract: We introduce dependently typed Proto-Quipper, or Proto-Quipper-D for short, an experimental quantum circuit programming language with linear dependent types. We give several examples to illustrate how linear dependent types can help in the construction of correct quantum circuits. Specifically, we show how dependent types enable programming families of circuits, and how dependent types solve the problem of type-safe uncomputation of garbage qubits. We also discuss other language features along the way.

On the mathematics of the free-choice paradigm

With Kristopher Tapp, August 2018, 14 pages.

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Abstract: Chen and Risen pointed out a logical flaw affecting the conclusions of a number of past experiments that used the free-choice paradigm to measure choice-induced attitude change. They went on to design and implement a free-choice experiment that used a novel type of control group in order to avoid this logical pitfall. In this paper, we describe a method by which a free-choice experiment can be correctly conducted even without a control group.

Dependently typed folds for nested data types

With Peng Fu. June 2018, 28 pages.

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Abstract: We present an approach to develop folds for nested data types using dependent types. We call such folds dependently typed folds. They have the following properties. (1) Dependently typed folds are defined by well-founded recursion and they can be defined in a total dependently typed language. (2) Dependently typed folds do not depend on maps. Map functions and many terminating functions can be defined using dependently typed folds. (3) The induction principles for nested data types follow from the definitions of dependently typed folds and the programs defined by dependently typed folds can be formally verified. (4) Dependently typed folds exist for any nested data types and they can be specialized to the traditional higher-order folds. Using various of examples, we show how to program and reason about dependently typed folds. We also show how to obtain dependently typed folds in general and how to specialize them to the corresponding higher-order folds.

A categorical model for a quantum circuit description language

Extended Abstract, with Francisco Rios. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Quantum Physics and Logic (QPL 2017), Nijmegen. Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 266:164–178, 2018.

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Abstract: Quipper is a practical programming language for describing families of quantum circuits. In this paper, we formalize a small, but useful fragment of Quipper called Proto-Quipper-M. Unlike its parent Quipper, this language is type-safe and has a formal denotational and operational semantics. Proto-Quipper-M is also more general than Quipper, in that it can describe families of morphisms in any symmetric monoidal category, of which quantum circuits are but one example. We design Proto-Quipper-M from the ground up, by first giving a general categorical model of parameters and state. The distinction between parameters and state is also known from hardware description languages. A parameter is a value that is known at circuit generation time, whereas a state is a value that is known at circuit execution time. After finding some interesting categorical structures in the model, we then define the programming language to fit the model. We cement the connection between the language and the model by proving type safety, soundness, and adequacy properties.

Optimal ancilla-free Clifford+T approximation of z-rotations

With Neil J. Ross. In Quantum Information and Computation 16(11–12):901–953, 2016.

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Abstract: We consider the problem of approximating arbitrary single-qubit z-rotations by ancilla-free Clifford+T circuits, up to given epsilon. We present a fast new probabilistic algorithm for solving this problem optimally, i.e., for finding the shortest possible circuit whatsoever for the given problem instance. The algorithm requires a factoring oracle (such as a quantum computer). Even in the absence of a factoring oracle, the algorithm is still near-optimal under a mild number-theoretic hypothesis. In this case, the algorithm finds a solution of T-count \(m + O(\log(\log(1/\epsilon)))\), where m is the T-count of the second-to-optimal solution. In the typical case, this yields circuit approximations of T-count \(3\log_2(1/\epsilon) + O(\log(\log(1/\epsilon)))\). Our algorithm is efficient in practice, and provably efficient under the above-mentioned number-theoretic hypothesis, in the sense that its expected runtime is \(O({\rm polylog}(1/\epsilon))\).

A finite alternation result for reversible boolean circuits

16 pages. Science of Computer Programming 151:2–17, 2018.

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An extended abstract of this work appeared in Proceedings of the 8th Conference on Reversible Computation (RC 2016), Bologna, Italy. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 9720:271–285, Springer, 2016.

Abstract: We say that a reversible boolean function on n bits has alternation depth d if it can be written as the sequential composition of d reversible boolean functions, each of which acts only on the top n−1 bits or on the bottom n−1 bits. Moreover, if the functions on n−1 bits are even, we speak of even alternation depth. We show that every even reversible boolean function of n ≥ 4 bits has alternation depth at most 9 and even alternation depth at most 13.

Reversible k-valued logic circuits are finitely generated for odd k

Manuscript, April 2016, 3 pages.

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Abstract: In his 2003 paper "Towards an algebraic theory of Boolean circuits", Lafont notes that the class of reversible circuits over a set of k truth values is finitely generated when k is odd. He cites a private communication for the proof. The purpose of this short note is to make the content of that communication available.

Programming the quantum future

With Benoît Valiron, Neil J. Ross, D. Scott Alexander, and Jonathan M. Smith. Communications of the ACM Vol. 58 No. 8, pages 52–61, 2015.

Abstract: Quantum programming languages (QPLs) are an essential part of Quantum Computer Science. The automated translation of expressive programming languages has been of immense benefit to classical computing, permitting algorithmic complexity to be managed through abstraction and modularity; the same benefits can accrue to the emerging capabilities of quantum computing. We present both a model of quantum computation using classical control and a set of requirements for a practical QPL. Quipper is a QPL satisfying these requirements, and has been used to implement a variety of non-trivial quantum algorithms; we illustrate some of its main features with examples.

Quipper: Concrete Resource Estimation in Quantum Algorithms

With Jonathan M. Smith, Neil J. Ross, and Benoît Valiron. Extended abstract. In 12th International Workshop on Quantitative Aspects of Programming Languages and Systems (QAPL 2014), Grenoble, France, 2014.

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Abstract: Despite the rich literature on quantum algorithms, there is a surprisingly small amount of coverage of their concrete logical design and implementation. Most resource estimation is done at the level of complexity analysis, but actual concrete numbers (of quantum gates, qubits, etc.) can differ by orders of magnitude. The line of work we present here is a formal framework to write, and reason about, quantum algorithms. Specifically, we designed a language, Quipper, with scalability in mind, and we are able to report actual resource counts for seven non-trivial algorithms found in the quantum computer science literature.

Remarks on Matsumoto and Amano's normal form for single-qubit Clifford+T operators

With Brett Giles. December 2013, 13 pages.

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Abstract: Matsumoto and Amano (2008) showed that every single-qubit Clifford+T operator can be uniquely written of a particular form, which we call the Matsumoto-Amano normal form. In this mostly expository paper, we give a detailed and streamlined presentation of Matsumoto and Amano's results, simplifying some proofs along the way. We also point out some corollaries to Matsumoto and Amano's work, including an intrinsic characterization of the Clifford+T subgroup of SO(3), which also yields an efficient T-optimal exact single-qubit synthesis algorithm. Interestingly, this also gives an alternative proof of Kliuchnikov, Maslov, and Mosca's exact synthesis result for the Clifford+T subgroup of U(2).

Applying quantitative semantics to higher-order quantum computing

With Michele Pagani and Benoît Valiron. In Proceedings of the 41st ACM SIGPLAN-SIGACT Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages (POPL 2014), San Diego, ACM SIGPLAN Notices 49(1):647–658, January 2014.

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Abstract: Finding a denotational semantics for higher order quantum computation is a long-standing problem in the semantics of quantum programming languages. Most past approaches to this problem fell short in one way or another, either limiting the language to an unusably small finitary fragment, or giving up important features of quantum physics such as entanglement. In this paper, we propose a denotational semantics for a quantum lambda calculus with recursion and an infinite data type, using constructions from quantitative semantics of linear logic.

Generators and relations for n-qubit Clifford operators

Logical Methods in Computer Science 11(2:10):1–17, 2015.

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The full proof of Proposition 7.1 is available as a supplement (105 pages): [ps, pdf] and in machine-readable form: [txt]

Abstract: We define a normal form for Clifford circuits, and we prove that every Clifford operator has a unique normal form. Moreover, we present a rewrite system by which any Clifford circuit can be reduced to normal form. This yields a presentation of Clifford operators in terms of generators and relations.

Completely positive projections and biproducts

With Chris Heunen and Aleks Kissinger. In Proceedings of the 10th International Workshop on Quantum Physics and Logic (QPL 2013), Barcelona. Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 171:71–83, 2014.

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Abstract: The recently introduced CP*-construction unites quantum channels and classical systems, subsuming the earlier CPM-construction in categorical quantum mechanics. We compare this construction to two earlier attempts at solving this problem: freely adding biproducts to CPM, and freely splitting idempotents in CPM. The CP*-construction embeds the former, and embeds into the latter, but neither embedding is an equivalence in general.

An Introduction to Quantum Programming in Quipper

With Alexander S. Green, Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine, Neil J. Ross, and Benoît Valiron. In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Reversible Computation (RC 2013), Victoria, BC, Canada. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 7948:110–124, Springer, 2013.

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Abstract: Quipper is a recently developed programming language for expressing quantum computations. This paper gives a brief tutorial introduction to the language, through a demonstration of how to make use of some of its key features. We illustrate many of Quipper's language features by developing a few well known examples of Quantum computation, including quantum teleportation, the quantum Fourier transform, and a quantum circuit for addition.

Quipper: A Scalable Quantum Programming Language

With Alexander S. Green, Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine, Neil J. Ross, and Benoît Valiron. In Proceedings of the 34th annual ACM SIGPLAN conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI 2013), Seattle, ACM SIGPLAN Notices 48(6):333–342, June 2013.

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Abstract: The field of quantum algorithms is vibrant. Still, there is currently a lack of programming languages for describing quantum computation on a practical scale, i.e., not just at the level of toy problems. We address this issue by introducing Quipper, a scalable, expressive, functional, higher-order quantum programming language. Quipper has been used to program a diverse set of non-trivial quantum algorithms, and can generate quantum gate representations using trillions of gates. It is geared towards a model of computation that uses a classical computer to control a quantum device, but is not dependent on any particular model of quantum hardware. Quipper has proven effective and easy to use, and opens the door towards using formal methods to analyze quantum algorithms.

Presheaf models of quantum computation: an outline

With Octavio Malherbe and Philip J. Scott. In Bob Coecke, Luke Ong, Prakash Panangaden, editors, Computation, Logic, Games, and Quantum Foundations. The Many Facets of Samson Abramsky. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 7860:178–194, Springer, 2013.

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Abstract: This paper outlines the construction of categorical models of higher-order quantum computation. We construct a concrete denotational semantics of Selinger and Valiron's quantum lambda calculus, which was previously an open problem. We do this by considering presheaves over appropriate base categories arising from first-order quantum computation. The main technical ingredients are Day's convolution theory and Kelly and Freyd's notion of continuity of functors. We first give an abstract description of the properties required of the base categories for the model construction to work. We then exhibit a specific example of base categories satisfying these properties.

Efficient Clifford+T approximation of single-qubit operators

Quantum Information and Computation 15(1–2):159–180, 2015.

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Abstract: We give an efficient randomized algorithm for approximating an arbitrary element of SU(2) by a product of Clifford+T operators, up to any given error threshold \(\epsilon>0\). Under a mild hypothesis on the distribution of primes, the algorithm's expected runtime is polynomial in \(\log(1/\epsilon)\). If the operator to be approximated is a z-rotation, the resulting gate sequence has T-count \(K+4\log_2(1/\epsilon)\), where K is approximately equal to 10. We also prove a worst-case lower bound of \(K+4\log_2(1/\epsilon)\), where K = −9, so that our algorithm is within an additive constant of optimal for certain z-rotations. For an arbitrary member of SU(2), we achieve approximations with T-count \(K+12\log_2(1/\epsilon)\). By contrast, the Solovay-Kitaev algorithm achieves T-count \(O(\log^c(1/\epsilon))\), where c is approximately 3.97.

Exact synthesis of multiqubit Clifford+T circuits

With Brett Giles. Physical Review A 87, 032332 (7 pages), 2013.

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Abstract: We prove that a unitary matrix has an exact representation over the Clifford+T gate set with local ancillas if and only if its entries are in the ring \(\mathbb{Z}[1/\sqrt{2},i]\). Moreover, we show that one ancilla always suffices. These facts were conjectured by Kliuchnikov, Maslov, and Mosca. We obtain an algorithm for synthesizing a exact Clifford+T circuit from any such n-qubit operator. We also characterize the Clifford+T operators that can be represented without ancillas.

Quantum circuits of T-depth one

Physical Review A 87, 042302 (4 pages), 2013.

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Abstract: We give a Clifford+T representation of the Toffoli gate of T-depth 1, using four ancillas. More generally, we describe a class of circuits whose T-depth can be reduced to 1 by using sufficiently many ancillas. We show that the cost of adding an additional control to any controlled gate is at most 8 additional T-gates, and T-depth 2. We also show that the circuit THT does not possess a T-depth 1 representation with an arbitrary number of ancillas initialized to |0〉.

Finite dimensional Hilbert spaces are complete for dagger compact closed categories

Logical Methods in Computer Science 8(3:6):1–12, 2012.

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A list of corrections is available: Errata.

An extended abstract of this work appeared in Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on Quantum Physics and Logic (QPL 2008), Reykjavik. Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science 270(1):113–119, Elsevier, 2011.

Abstract: We show that an equation follows from the axioms of dagger compact closed categories if and only if it holds in finite dimensional Hilbert spaces.

Partially traced categories

With Octavio Malherbe and Philip J. Scott. Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra 216(12):2563–2585, 2012.

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Abstract: This paper deals with questions relating to Haghverdi and Scott's notion of partially traced categories. The main result is a representation theorem for such categories: we prove that every partially traced category can be faithfully embedded in a totally traced category. Also conversely, every symmetric monoidal subcategory of a totally traced category is partially traced, so this characterizes the partially traced categories completely. The main technique we use is based on Freyd's paracategories, along with a partial version of Joyal, Street, and Verity's Int-construction.

Autonomous categories in which \(A\cong A^*\)

Extended Abstract. In Proceedings of the 7th International Workshop on Quantum Physics and Logic (QPL 2010), Oxford, pp. 151–160, 2010.

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Abstract: Recently, there has been some interest in autonomous categories (such as compact closed categories) in which the objects are self-dual, in the sense that \(A\cong A^*\), or even \(A=A^*\), for all objects A. In this talk, we investigate which coherence conditions should be required of such a category. We also investigate what graphical language could be used to reason about such a category.

Quantum lambda calculus

Book chapter, with Benoît Valiron. In Simon Gay and Ian Mackie, editors, Semantic Techniques in Quantum Computation, Cambridge University Press, pp. 135–172, 2009.

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Abstract: We discuss the design of a typed lambda calculus for quantum computation. After a brief discussion of the role of higher-order functions in quantum information theory, we define the quantum lambda calculus and its operational semantics. Safety invariants, such as the no-cloning property, are enforced by a static type system that is based on intuitionistic linear logic. We also describe a type inference algorithm, and a categorical semantics.

© 2009 Published by Cambridge University Press.

A survey of graphical languages for monoidal categories

Book chapter. In Bob Coecke, editor, New Structures for Physics, Lecture Notes in Physics 813:289–355, Springer, 2011.

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Abstract: This article is intended as a reference guide to various notions of monoidal categories and their associated string diagrams. It is hoped that this will be useful not just to mathematicians, but also to physicists, computer scientists, and others who use diagrammatic reasoning. We have opted for a somewhat informal treatment of topological notions, and have omitted most proofs. Nevertheless, the exposition is sufficiently detailed to make it clear what is presently known, and to serve as a starting place for more in-depth study. Where possible, we provide pointers to more rigorous treatments in the literature. Where we include results that have only been proved in special cases, we indicate this in the form of caveats.

Bibliography: Because many of the references are difficult to track down, I have created a version of the bibliography with hyperlinks: [bibliography]

A linear-non-linear model for a computational call-by-value lambda calculus

Extended Abstract, with Benoît Valiron. In Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on Foundations of Software Science and Computation Structures (FOSSACS 2008), Budapest, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4962:81–96, Springer, 2008.

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A list of corrections is available: Errata.

Abstract: We give a categorical semantics for a call-by-value linear lambda calculus. Such a lambda calculus was used by Selinger and Valiron as the backbone of a functional programming language for quantum computation. One feature of this lambda calculus is its linear type system, which includes a duplicability operator "!" as in linear logic. Another main feature is its call-by-value reduction strategy, together with a side-effect to model probabilistic measurements. The "!" operator gives rise to a comonad, as in the linear logic models of Seely, Bierman, and Benton. The side-effects give rise to a monad, as in Moggi's computational lambda calculus. It is this combination of a monad and a comonad that makes the present paper interesting. We show that our categorical semantics is sound and complete.

Idempotents in dagger categories

Extended Abstract. In Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on Quantum Programming Languages (QPL 2006), Oxford. Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science 210:107–122, Elsevier, 2008.

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Abstract: Dagger compact closed categories were studied by Abramsky and Coecke (under the name "strongly compact closed categories") as an abstract presentation of the category of Hilbert spaces and linear maps, and as a framework in which to carry out the interpretation of quantum protocols. I subsequently showed that dagger compact closed categories can also describe mixed quantum computation, where the morphisms are completely positive maps. I introduced the CPM construction as a way to pass from the pure to the mixed setting. One technical detail of the CPM(C) construction is that it does not preserve biproducts. Therefore, to obtain an interpretation of classical types such as \({\rm bit} = I\oplus I\), one must work in the free biproduct completion \({\bf CPM}({\bf C})^{\oplus}\). In this paper, we show that there is another view of classical types, namely as splittings of self-adjoint idempotents on quantum types. We show that all the objects of \({\bf CPM}({\bf C})^{\oplus}\) arise as such splittings.

On a fully abstract model for a quantum linear functional language

Extended Abstract, with Benoît Valiron. In Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on Quantum Programming Languages (QPL 2006), Oxford. Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science 210:123–137, Elsevier, 2008.

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Abstract: This paper studies the linear fragment of the programing language for quantum computation with classical control described in [Selinger and Valiron, 2005]. We sketch the language, and discuss equivalence of terms. We also describe a fully abstract denotational semantics based on completely positive maps.

Tree checking for sparse complexes

With Massimo Caboara and Sara Faridi. In Proceedings of the Second International Congress on Mathematical Software (ICMS 2006), Castro-Urdiales, Spain. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4151:110–121, Springer, 2006.

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Abstract: We detail here the sparse variant of the algorithm sketched in [CFS] for checking if a simplicial complex is a tree. A full worst case complexity analysis is given and several optimizations are discussed. The practical complexity is discussed for some examples.

Simplicial cycles and the computation of simplicial trees

With Massimo Caboara and Sara Faridi. Journal of Symbolic Computation 42:74–88, 2007.

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An extended abstract of this work appeared in MEGA 2005, [ps, ps2up, pdf]

Abstract: We generalize the concept of a cycle from graphs to simplicial complexes. We show that a simplicial cycle is either a sequence of facets connected in the shape of a circle, or is a cone over such a structure. We show that a simplicial tree is a connected cycle-free simplicial complex, and use this characterization to produce an algorithm that checks in polynomial time whether a simplicial complex is a tree. We also present an efficient algorithm for checking whether a simplicial complex is grafted, and therefore Cohen-Macaulay.

A lambda calculus for quantum computation with classical control

With Benoît Valiron. Mathematical Structures in Computer Science 16(3):527–552, 2006.

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An extended abstract of this work appeared in TLCA 2005 © Springer 2005. [dvi, ps, ps2up, pdf] (preprint)

Abstract: In this paper, we develop a functional programming language for quantum computers, by extending the simply-typed lambda calculus with quantum types and operations. The design of this language adheres to the "quantum data, classical control" paradigm, following the first author's work on quantum flow-charts. We define a call-by-value operational semantics, and we give a type system using affine intuitionistic linear logic. The main results of this paper are the safety properties of the language and the development of a type inference algorithm.

© 2006 Peter Selinger, Benoît Valiron. Published by Cambridge University Press.

Dagger compact closed categories and completely positive maps

Extended Abstract. In Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Quantum Programming Languages (QPL 2005), Chicago. Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science 170:139–163, Elsevier, 2007.

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Abstract: Dagger compact closed categories were recently introduced by Abramsky and Coecke, under the name "strongly compact closed categories", as an axiomatic framework for quantum mechanics. We present a graphical language for dagger compact closed categories, and sketch a proof of its completeness for equational reasoning. We give a general construction, the CPM construction, which associates to each dagger compact closed category its "category of completely positive maps", and we show that the resulting category is again dagger compact closed. We apply these ideas to Abramsky and Coecke's interpretation of quantum protocols, and to D'Hondt and Panangaden's predicate transformer semantics.

Towards a semantics for higher-order quantum computation

In Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Quantum Programming Languages, Turku, Finland. TUCS General Publication No 33, pp. 127–143, June 2004.

Download: [ps, ps2up, pdf, pdf2up] (corrected July 2011)

An expanded version (with proofs) is also available: [ps, ps2up, pdf, pdf2up] (21 pages, corrected July 2011)

Abstract: The search for a semantics for higher-order quantum computation leads naturally to the study of categories of normed cones. In the first part of this paper, we develop the theory of continuous normed cones, and prove some of their basic properties, including a Hahn-Banach style theorem. We then describe two different concrete *-autonomous categories of normed cones. The first of these categories is built from completely positive maps as in the author's semantics of first-order quantum computation. The second category is a reformulation of Girard's quantum coherent spaces. We also point out why ultimately, neither of these categories is a satisfactory model of higher-order quantum computation.

A brief survey of quantum programming languages

In Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Functional and Logic Programming, Nara, Japan. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 2998:1–6, Springer, 2004.

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Abstract: This article is a brief and subjective survey of quantum programming language research.

Towards a quantum programming language

Mathematical Structures in Computer Science 14(4):527–586, 2004.

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Abstract: We propose the design of a programming language for quantum computing. Traditionally, quantum algorithms are frequently expressed at the hardware level, for instance in terms of the quantum circuit model or quantum Turing machines. These approaches do not encourage structured programming or abstractions such as data types. In this paper, we describe the syntax and semantics of a simple quantum programming language with high-level features such as loops, recursive procedures, and structured data types. The language is functional in nature, statically typed, free of run-time errors, and it has an interesting denotational semantics in terms of complete partial orders of superoperators.

© 2004 Published by Cambridge University Press.

Some remarks on control categories

Manuscript, June 2003, 17 pages.

Download: [ps, ps2up, pdf, pdf2up] (minor typos corrected, Sept 2013)

Abstract: This paper is a collection of remarks on control categories, including answers to some frequently asked questions. The paper is not self-contained and must be read in conjunction with Control Categories and Duality. We clarify the definition of response categories, and show that most of the conditions can be dropped. In particular, the requirement of having finite sums can be dropped, leading to an interesting new CPS translation of the lambda-mu-calculus. We discuss the choice of left-to-right vs. right-to-left evaluation in the call-by-value lambda calculus, an issue which is sometimes misunderstood because it is a purely syntactical issue which is not reflected semantically. We clarify the relationships between various alternative formulations of disjunction types and conjunction types, which coincide in call-by-value but differ in call-by-name. We prove that copyable and discardable maps are not always central, and we characterize those control categories of the form \(R^{\bf Set}\) for which copyable and discardable implies central. We prove that any control category with initial object is a preorder.

From continuation passing style to Krivine's abstract machine

Manuscript, May 2003, 23 pages.

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Abstract: We describe, for three different extensions of typed lambda calculus, how the rules for a version of Krivine's abstract machine can be derived from those of continuation passing style (CPS) semantics. The three extensions are: Parigot's \(\lambda\mu\)-calculus, Pym and Ritter's \(\lambda\mu\nu\)-calculus, and an extension of the call-by-name lambda calculus with built-in types and primitive functions. We also show how Krivine's abstract machine can be implemented on realistic hardware by compiling it into an idealized assembly language.

Order-incompleteness and finite lambda reduction models

Theoretical Computer Science 309(1):43–63, 2003.

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An extended abstract of this work appeared in LICS'96, © 1996 IEEE. [ps, pdf]

Abstract: Many familiar models of the untyped lambda calculus are constructed by order theoretic methods. This paper provides some basic new facts about ordered models of the lambda calculus. We show that in any partially ordered model that is complete for the theory of \(\beta\)- or \(\beta\eta\)-conversion, the partial order is trivial on term denotations. Equivalently, the open and closed term algebras of the untyped lambda calculus cannot be non-trivially partially ordered. Our second result is a syntactical characterization, in terms of so-called generalized Mal'cev operators, of those lambda theories which cannot be induced by any non-trivially partially ordered model. We also consider a notion of finite models for the untyped lambda calculus, or more precisely, finite models of reduction. We demonstrate how such models can be used as practical tools for giving finitary proofs of term inequalities.

The lambda calculus is algebraic

Journal of Functional Programming 12(6):549–566, 2002.

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Abstract: This paper serves as a self-contained, tutorial introduction to combinatory models of the untyped lambda calculus. We focus particularly on the interpretation of free variables. We argue that free variables should not be interpreted as elements in a model, as is usually done, but as indeterminates. We claim that the resulting interpretation is more natural and leads to a closer correspondence between models and theories. In particular, it solves the problem of the notorious \(\xi\)-rule, which asserts that equations should be preserved under binders, and which fails to be sound for the usual interpretation.

book cover

Lecture notes on the lambda calculus

Expository course notes. 2001–2013. 120 pages.

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These notes are also available in book form.

Abstract: This is a set of lecture notes that developed out of courses on the lambda calculus that I taught at the University of Ottawa in 2001 and at Dalhousie University in 2007 and 2013. Topics covered in these notes include the untyped lambda calculus, the Church-Rosser theorem, combinatory algebras, the simply-typed lambda calculus, the Curry-Howard isomorphism, weak and strong normalization, polymorphism, type inference, denotational semantics, complete partial orders, and the language PCF.

Models for an adversary-centric protocol logic

In Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Logical Aspects of Cryptographic Protocol Verification, Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science 55(1):69–84, Elsevier, 2001.

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Abstract: In this paper, we propose an adversary-centric, logical framework for formalizing cryptographic protocols. The formalism is inspired by the work of Compton and Dexter and of Cervesato et al., but we do not focus on proof search, but instead on logical validity. A novel contribution of this paper is a technique for giving very short proofs of protocol correctness through models of first-order logic.

Control categories and duality: on the categorical semantics of the lambda-mu calculus

Mathematical Structures in Computer Science 11(2):207–260, 2001.

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Abstract: We give a categorical semantics to the call-by-name and call-by-value versions of Parigot's \(\lambda\mu\)-calculus with disjunction types. We introduce the class of control categories, which combine a cartesian-closed structure with a premonoidal structure in the sense of Power and Robinson. We prove, via a categorical structure theorem, that the categorical semantics is equivalent to a CPS semantics in the style of Hofmann and Streicher. We show that the call-by-name \(\lambda\mu\)-calculus forms an internal language for control categories, and that the call-by-value \(\lambda\mu\)-calculus forms an internal language for the dual co-control categories. As a corollary, we obtain a syntactic duality result: there exist syntactic translations between call-by-name and call-by-value which are mutually inverse and which preserve the operational semantics. This answers a question of Streicher and Reus.

© 2001 Published by Cambridge University Press.

Categorical structure of asynchrony

In Proceedings of MFPS 15. Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science 20:158–181, Elsevier, 1999.

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Abstract: We investigate a categorical framework for the semantics of asynchronous communication in networks of parallel processes. Abstracting from a category of asynchronous labeled transition systems, we formulate the notion of a categorical model of asynchrony as a uniformly traced monoidal category with diagonals, such that every morphism is total and the focus is equivalent to a category of complete partial orders. We present a simple, non-deterministic, cpo-based model that satisfies these requirements, and we discuss how to refine this model by an observational congruence. We also present a general construction of passing from deterministic to non-deterministic models, and more generally, from non-linear to linear structure on a category.

© 1999 Published by Elsevier Science B. V.

A note on Bainbridge's power set construction

Manuscript. May 1998. 10 pages.

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Abstract: The category Rel of sets and relations has two natural traced monoidal structures: in (Rel,+,Tr), the tensor is given by disjoint union, and in (Rel,×,Tr') by products of sets. Already in 1976, predating the definition of traced monoidal categories by 20 years, Bainbridge has shown how to model flowcharts and networks in these two respective settings. Bainbridge has also pointed out that one can move from one setting to the other via the power set operation. However, Bainbridge's power operation is not functorial, and in this paper we show that there is no traced monoidal embedding of (Rel,+,Tr) into (Rel,×,Tr') whose object part is given by the power set operation. On the other hand, we show that there is such an embedding whose object part is given by the power-multiset operation.

Functionality, polymorphism, and concurrency:
a mathematical investigation of programming paradigms

Ph.D. Thesis, University of Pennsylvania. June 1997. 129 pages.
Appeared as IRCS Technical Report 97-17.

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A list of corrections is available: Errata.

Abstract: The search for mathematical models of computational phenomena often leads to problems that are of independent mathematical interest. Selected problems of this kind are investigated in this thesis. First, we study models of the untyped lambda calculus. Although many familiar models are constructed by order-theoretic methods, it is also known that there are some models of the lambda calculus that cannot be non-trivially ordered. We show that the standard open and closed term algebras are unorderable. We characterize the absolutely unorderable T-algebras in any algebraic variety T. Here an algebra is called absolutely unorderable if it cannot be embedded in an orderable algebra. We then introduce a notion of finite models for the lambda calculus, contrasting the known fact that models of the lambda calculus, in the traditional sense, are always non-recursive. Our finite models are based on Plotkin's syntactical models of reduction. We give a method for constructing such models, and some examples that show how finite models can yield useful information about terms. Next, we study models of typed lambda calculi. Models of the polymorphic lambda calculus can be divided into environment-style models, such as Bruce and Meyer's non-strict set-theoretic models, and categorical models, such as Seely's interpretation in PL-categories. Reynolds has shown that there are no set-theoretic strict models. Following a different approach, we investigate a notion of non-strict categorical models. These provide a uniform framework in which one can describe various classes of non-strict models, including set-theoretic models with or without empty types, and Kripke-style models. We show that completeness theorems correspond to categorical representation theorems, and we reprove a completeness result by Meyer et al. on set-theoretic models of the simply-typed lambda calculus with possibly empty types. Finally, we study properties of asynchronous communication in networks of communicating processes. We formalize several notions of asynchrony independently of any particular concurrent process paradigm. A process is asynchronous if its input and/or output is filtered through a communication medium, such as a buffer or a queue, possibly with feedback. We prove that the behavior of asynchronous processes can be equivalently characterized by first-order axioms.

First-order axioms for asynchrony

In Proceedings of CONCUR '97, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 1243:376–390, Springer, 1997.

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Abstract: We study properties of asynchronous communication independently of any concrete concurrent process paradigm. We give a general-purpose, mathematically rigorous definition of several notions of asynchrony in a natural setting where an agent is asynchronous if its input and/or output is filtered through a buffer or a queue, possibly with feedback. In a series of theorems, we give necessary and sufficient conditions for each of these notions in the form of simple first-order or second-order axioms. We illustrate the formalism by applying it to asynchronous CCS and the core join calculus.

LH has nonempty products

Manuscript. April 1994. 5 pages.

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Abstract: We show that LH, the category of topological spaces with local homeomorphisms, has binary products. This has been previously believed to be false.

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Peter Selinger / Department of Mathematics and Statistics / Dalhousie University
selinger@mathstat.dal.ca / PGP key