Combinatorics, Probability and Computing


Approximate Counting and Quantum Computation

M. BORDEWICH a1 1 , M. FREEDMAN a2, L. LOVÁSZ a2 and D. WELSH a1 2
a1 Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, 24-29 St. Giles', Oxford, OX1 (e-mail:,
a2 Microsoft Research, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052, USA (e-mail:,

Article author query
bordewich m   [Google Scholar] 
freedman m   [Google Scholar] 
lovasz l   [Google Scholar] 
welsh d   [Google Scholar] 


Motivated by the result that an ‘approximate’ evaluation of the Jones polynomial of a braid at a 5th root of unity can be used to simulate the quantum part of any algorithm in the quantum complexity class BQP, and results relating BQP to the counting class GapP, we introduce a form of additive approximation which can be used to simulate a function in BQP. We show that all functions in the classes #P and GapP have such an approximation scheme under certain natural normalizations. However, we are unable to determine whether the particular functions we are motivated by, such as the above evaluation of the Jones polynomial, can be approximated in this way. We close with some open problems motivated by this work.

(Published Online October 11 2005)
(Received October 15 2003)
(Revised February 7 2005)

For Béla Bollobás on his 60th birthday


1 Research funded by the EPSRC Vodafone, and supported in part by ESPRIT Project RAND-APX.

2 Research supported in part by ESPRIT Project RAND-APX.