Quantum topology

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Quantum topology is a branch of mathematics that connects quantum mechanics with low-dimensional topology.


Dirac notation provides a viewpoint of quantum mechanics which becomes amplified into a framework that can embrace the amplitudes associated with topological spaces and the related embedding of one space within another such as knots and links in three-dimensional space. This bra–ket notation of kets and bras can be generalised, becoming maps of vector spaces associated with topological spaces that allow tensor products. [1]

Topological entanglement involving linking and braiding can be intuitively related to quantum entanglement. [1]

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In quantum mechanics, bra–ket notation, or Dirac notation, is ubiquitous. The notation uses the angle brackets, "" and "", and a vertical bar "", to construct "bras" and "kets". A ket looks like "". Mathematically it denotes a vector, , in an abstract (complex) vector space , and physically it represents a state of some quantum system. A bra looks like "", and mathematically it denotes a linear functional , i.e. a linear map that maps each vector in to a number in the complex plane . Letting the linear functional act on a vector is written as .

In mathematics, any vector space V has a corresponding dual vector space consisting of all linear functionals on V, together with the vector space structure of pointwise addition and scalar multiplication by constants.

In quantum computing, a qubit  or quantum bit is the basic unit of quantum information—the quantum version of the classical binary bit physically realized with a two-state device. A qubit is a two-state quantum-mechanical system, one of the simplest quantum systems displaying the peculiarity of quantum mechanics. Examples include: the spin of the electron in which the two levels can be taken as spin up and spin down; or the polarization of a single photon in which the two states can be taken to be the vertical polarization and the horizontal polarization. In a classical system, a bit would have to be in one state or the other. However, quantum mechanics allows the qubit to be in a coherent superposition of both states simultaneously, a property which is fundamental to quantum mechanics and quantum computing.

Topology Branch of mathematics

In mathematics, topology is concerned with the properties of a geometric object that are preserved under continuous deformations, such as stretching, twisting, crumpling and bending, but not tearing or gluing.

Wave function Mathematical description of the quantum state of a system; complex-valued probability amplitude, and the probabilities for the possible results of measurements made on the system can be derived from it

A wave function in quantum physics is a mathematical description of the quantum state of an isolated quantum system. The wave function is a complex-valued probability amplitude, and the probabilities for the possible results of measurements made on the system can be derived from it. The most common symbols for a wave function are the Greek letters ψ and Ψ.

Knot theory Study of mathematical knots

In topology, knot theory is the study of mathematical knots. While inspired by knots which appear in daily life, such as those in shoelaces and rope, a mathematical knot differs in that the ends are joined together so that it cannot be undone, the simplest knot being a ring. In mathematical language, a knot is an embedding of a circle in 3-dimensional Euclidean space, . Two mathematical knots are equivalent if one can be transformed into the other via a deformation of upon itself ; these transformations correspond to manipulations of a knotted string that do not involve cutting the string or passing the string through itself.

A topological soliton or "toron" occurs when two adjoining structures or spaces are in some way "out of phase" with each other in ways that make a seamless transition between them impossible. One of the simplest and most commonplace examples of a topological soliton occurs in old-fashioned coiled telephone handset cords, which are usually coiled clockwise. Years of picking up the handset can end up coiling parts of the cord in the opposite counterclockwise direction, and when this happens there will be a distinctive larger loop that separates the two directions of coiling. This odd looking transition loop, which is neither clockwise nor counterclockwise, is an excellent example of a topological soliton. No matter how complex the context, anything that qualifies as a topological soliton must at some level exhibit this same simple issue of reconciliation seen in the twisted phone cord example.

In gauge theory and mathematical physics, a topological quantum field theory is a quantum field theory which computes topological invariants.

A qutrit is a unit of quantum information that is realized by a quantum system described by a superposition of three mutually orthogonal quantum states.

In physics, a topological quantum number is any quantity, in a physical theory, that takes on only one of a discrete set of values, due to topological considerations. Most commonly, topological quantum numbers are topological invariants associated with topological defects or soliton-type solutions of some set of differential equations modeling a physical system, as the solitons themselves owe their stability to topological considerations. The specific "topological considerations" are usually due to the appearance of the fundamental group or a higher-dimensional homotopy group in the description of the problem, quite often because the boundary, on which the boundary conditions are specified, has a non-trivial homotopy group that is preserved by the differential equations. The topological quantum number of a solution is sometimes called the winding number of the solution, or, more precisely, it is the degree of a continuous mapping.

Topological order Type of order at absolute zero

In physics, topological order is a kind of order in the zero-temperature phase of matter. Macroscopically, topological order is defined and described by robust ground state degeneracy and quantized non-Abelian geometric phases of degenerate ground states. Microscopically, topological orders correspond to patterns of long-range quantum entanglement. States with different topological orders cannot change into each other without a phase transition.

Topological string theory Theory in physical physics

In theoretical physics, topological string theory is a version of string theory. Topological string theory was first thought of and is studied by physicists such as Edward Witten and Cumrun Vafa.

In category theory, a branch of mathematics, dagger compact categories first appeared in 1989 in the work of Sergio Doplicher and John E. Roberts on the reconstruction of compact topological groups from their category of finite-dimensional continuous unitary representations. They also appeared in the work of John Baez and James Dolan as an instance of semistrict k-tuply monoidal n-categories, which describe general topological quantum field theories, for n = 1 and k = 3. They are a fundamental structure in Samson Abramsky and Bob Coecke's categorical quantum mechanics.

For any complex number written in polar form, the phase factor is the complex exponential factor (eiθ). As such, the term "phase factor" is related to the more general term phasor, which may have any magnitude. The phase factor is a unit complex number, i.e., of absolute value 1. It is commonly used in quantum mechanics.

In physics, a state space is an abstract space in which different "positions" represent, not literal locations, but rather states of some physical system. This makes it a type of phase space.

The topological entanglement entropy or topological entropy, usually denoted by γ, is a number characterizing many-body states that possess topological order.

In quantum physics, a quantum state is a mathematical entity that provides a probability distribution for the outcomes of each possible measurement on a system. Knowledge of the quantum state together with the rules for the system's evolution in time exhausts all that can be predicted about the system's behavior. A mixture of quantum states is again a quantum state. Quantum states that cannot be written as a mixture of other states are called pure quantum states, while all other states are called mixed quantum states. A pure quantum state can be represented by a ray in a Hilbert space over the complex numbers, while mixed states are represented by density matrices, which are positive semidefinite operators that act on Hilbert spaces.

This is a glossary for the terminology often encountered in undergraduate quantum mechanics courses.


  1. 1 2 Kauffman, Louis H.; Baadhio, Randy A. (1993). Quantum Topology. River Edge, NJ: World Scientific. ISBN   981-02-1544-4.