I'm coming across some confusion in chapter 10.1.1 of Nielsen and Chaung. In terms of the 'recovery' procedure, how can the result of the syndrome measurement be 0, 2 or 3?

I am assuming that, for example, if the state is $a|010\rangle$ + $b|101\rangle$ (bit flip on the second qubit), then will we not see that $\langle\psi|P_2|\psi\rangle = 1$ and the rest of the projection operators will give a syndrome measurement of 0 (i.e $\langle\psi|P_1|\psi\rangle = 0$)? From this example, and working through the rest in the same manner, I am struggling to see where/how an error syndrome of 2 will be measured.

I hope my current working makes sense!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hi and welcome to Quantum Computing SE. Please avoid posting scans of articles and book. Rather cite necessary parts of the source. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 5:27

1 Answer 1


The outcome of measuring $P_2$ will not be 2, but rather the outcome of measuring the operator with a spectral decomposition given by the four syndromes and corresponding eigenvalues. Remember that $\langle \psi | P_n | \psi \rangle$ gives the probability of measuring the eigenvalue of $M$ corresponding to $P_n$, not the eigenvalue itself. As such, an outcome of $n$ is not saying that measuring $P_n$ will give $n$, but just refers to the fact that $\langle \psi | P_n | \psi \rangle = 1$, so we are certain that the syndrome is $P_n$.

As for how to perform this syndrome measurement in practice, look at page 430.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.