Markov chains for error accumulation in quantum circuits
We study a model for the accumulation of errors in multi-qubit quantum computations, as well as a model describing continuous errors accumulating in a single qubit. By modeling the error process in a quantum computation using two coupled Markov chains, we are able to capture a weak form of time-dependency between errors in the past and future. By subsequently using techniques from the field of discrete probability theory, we calculate the probability that error measures such as the fidelity and trace distance exceed a threshold analytically. The formulae cover fairly generic error distributions, cover multi-qubit scenarios, and are applicable to e.g. the randomized benchmarking protocol. To combat the numerical challenge that may occur when evaluating our expressions, we additionally provide an analytical bound on the error probabilities that is of lower numerical complexity, and we also discuss a state space reduction that occurs for stabilizer circuits. Finally, taking inspiration from the field of operations research, we illustrate how our expressions can be used to e.g. decide how many gates one can apply before too many errors accumulate with high probability, and how one can lower the rate of error accumulation in existing circuits through simulated annealing.