I am trying to implement qubit rotations using $SU(2)$ from scratch in order to understand and debug what happens under the (physical) hood. The reason why gates and high-level APIs are omitted here is the desired learning effect and the physical understanding of what actually happens beneath the cap.

Implementing the rotation matrix as describes in this lecture notes (equation 25) works fine if I perform one rotation as follows:

from qiskit.visualization.bloch import Bloch
from sympy.physics.matrices import msigma
from sympy import Matrix
from sympy import N, re
import numpy as np

def to_spherical(vec):
    x = np.real(vec[0])
    y = np.real(vec[1])
    z = np.real(vec[2])
    hxy = np.hypot(x, y)
    r = np.hypot(hxy, z)
    ϕ = np.arctan2(y, x) #az
    θ = np.arctan2(z, hxy) #el
    return [r, ϕ, θ]

def to_cartesian(polar):
    r = polar[0]
    ϕ = polar[1]
    θ = polar[2]
    x = r * np.sin(ϕ) * np.cos(θ)
    y = r * np.sin(ϕ) * np.sin(θ)
    z = r * np.cos(ϕ)
    return [np.real(x), np.real(y), np.real(z)]

def rn_su2(vec, rot_angle, n):
    spherical_vec = to_spherical(vec)
    ϕ = spherical_vec[1]
    θ = spherical_vec[2]
    sx = msigma(1)
    sy = msigma(2)
    sz = msigma(3)
    M_q = (np.sin(θ)*np.cos(ϕ)*sx + np.sin(θ)*np.sin(ϕ)*sy + np.cos(θ)*sz)
    U_n = np.eye(2)*np.cos(rot_angle/2) -1j*(n[0]*sx+n[1]*sy+n[2]*sz)*np.sin(rot_angle/2)
    M_q_rotated = U_n*M_q*np.matrix(U_n).H
    return M_q_rotated

def extract_angles(M_q_rotated):
    cos_θ_rotated = float(N(re(M_q_rotated[0,0])))
    θ_rotated = np.arccos(cos_θ_rotated)
    # e^(ix) = cos(x) + i*sin(x)
    # see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euler%27s_identity
    temp = float(N(re(M_q_rotated[1,0])))
    temp = temp/np.sin(θ_rotated)
    ϕ_rotated = np.arccos(temp)
    return (ϕ_rotated, θ_rotated)

After having implemented the fundamental functions, the most interesting part is to perform the rotations of a Qubit. In the following I am trying to take a vector, rotate it by $\frac{\pi}{8}$ around the $z$-axis, then in the next step I take the resulting rotated vector and rotate it again by $\frac{\pi}{8}$ around the $z$-axis and so forth:

rot_angle = np.pi/8
n = [0, 0, 1]

start_vec = [1, 0, 0]

num_iterations = 5
_bloch = Bloch()
_bloch.vector_color = ['blue'] * num_iterations

sv = []
vec = start_vec
for i in range(num_iterations):
    M_q_rotated = rn_su2(vec, rot_angle, n)
    (ϕ_rotated, θ_rotated) = extract_angles(M_q_rotated)
    vec = np.array(to_cartesian([1, ϕ_rotated, θ_rotated]))


I am using qiskit for visualizing the vectors on a blochsphere. The first rotation works really well, but the subsequent ones not:

enter image description here

I would really appreciate any help to get the subsequent rotations working. The complete notebook is publicly available here on GitHub.

Update (2022-06-13): After fixing the issues enlisted in the great answer of Egretta.Thula, the plot looks as follows (see updated code here on GitHub):

enter image description here


1 Answer 1


There is more than one issue in your code.

  1. You switched ϕ and θ in the function that convert polar coordinates to cartesian coordinates:
    x = r * np.sin(ϕ) * np.cos(θ)
    y = r * np.sin(ϕ) * np.sin(θ)
    z = r * np.cos(ϕ)
  1. hxy and z are passed in a wrong order while calculating θ in to_spherical function:
    θ = np.arctan2(z, hxy)
  1. SymPy uses I instead of j for imaginary numbers. That makes numpy.matrix.H not working properly. You should use Dagger instead.


There is another issue in the code which takes place when num_iterations $\geq 8$,

extract_angles uses real part of $e^{i\phi}$ to calculate the value of $\phi$. You should take both real and imaginary parts. Otherwise you will always get a value between $0$ and $\pi$. So you will need to change these lines of code:

    temp = float(N(re(M_q_rotated[1,0])))
    temp = temp/np.sin(θ_rotated)
    ϕ_rotated = np.arccos(temp)

to become:

    temp = M_q_rotated[1,0]/np.sin(θ_rotated)
    temp_r = float(N(re(temp)))
    temp_i = float(N(im(temp)))
    ϕ_rotated = np.arctan2(temp_i, temp_r)

I think this is the root cause of the issue described here.

  • $\begingroup$ Your answer is great and works. I updated my OP and added the new plot resulting from your fixes. I pushed the updated code to GitHub. Thank you again. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 6:09

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