Foundations of Physics

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 341–361

Perfect State Distinguishability and Computational Speedups with Postselected Closed Timelike Curves


DOI: 10.1007/s10701-011-9601-0

Cite this article as:
Brun, T.A. & Wilde, M.M. Found Phys (2012) 42: 341. doi:10.1007/s10701-011-9601-0


Bennett and Schumacher’s postselected quantum teleportation is a model of closed timelike curves (CTCs) that leads to results physically different from Deutsch’s model. We show that even a single qubit passing through a postselected CTC (P-CTC) is sufficient to do any postselected quantum measurement with certainty, and we discuss an important difference between “Deutschian” CTCs (D-CTCs) and P-CTCs in which the future existence of a P-CTC might affect the present outcome of an experiment. Then, based on a suggestion of Bennett and Smith, we explicitly show how a party assisted by P-CTCs can distinguish a set of linearly independent quantum states, and we prove that it is not possible for such a party to distinguish a set of linearly dependent states. The power of P-CTCs is thus weaker than that of D-CTCs because the Holevo bound still applies to circuits using them, regardless of their ability to conspire in violating the uncertainty principle. We then discuss how different notions of a quantum mixture that are indistinguishable in linear quantum mechanics lead to dramatically differing conclusions in a nonlinear quantum mechanics involving P-CTCs. Finally, we give explicit circuit constructions that can efficiently factor integers, efficiently solve any decision problem in the intersection of NP and coNP, and probabilistically solve any decision problem in NP. These circuits accomplish these tasks with just one qubit traveling back in time, and they exploit the ability of postselected closed timelike curves to create grandfather paradoxes for invalid answers.


Postselected closed time-like curvesState distinguishabilityParadoxical computation

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Communication Sciences InstituteUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.School of Computer ScienceMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada