In their 2017 paper, Childs et al. gave the definition of QLSP beginning with : "Let $A$ be an $N\times N$ Hermitian matrix with known condition numbers $\kappa$, $||A|| = 1$ and at most $d$ non-zero entries in any row or column..."

I initially thought that by $||A|| = 1$ they meant that QLSP requires spectral norm (largest eigenvalue) of $A$ to be $1$, which sounds reasonable to me as even the original HHL paper they needed the eigenvalues of $A$ to lie in between $1/\kappa$ and $1$.

But, the paper: Quantum linear systems algorithms: a primer seems to have interpreted is as "the determinant of $A$ needs to be $1$" in page 28 definition 6.

Which interpretation is correct and why? In case the latter is correct, I'm not sure why it is so. I don't see why the restriction that $\text{det}(A)$ needs to be $1$ even make sense. It (the unit determinant condition) doesn't even guarantee that the eigenvalues of $A$ will be less than or equal to $1$, which is necessary for HHL to work.


Certainly it is meant as the largest eigenvalue. I have no idea why the linked review paper uses the determinant. I don't see anywhere that they use that property (from an admittedly brief skim).

I presume you could rewrite conditions in terms of the determinant (you would have to alter the time step $t_0$) but it's not clear to me why you would want to. It's also worth noting that definition 8 (page 39) in that paper defines matrix inversion, putting limits on the eigenvalues of the matrix: bounding between some minimum value and 1. So they're also implicitly acknowledging that structure, and certainly not setting the determinant (product of eigenvalues) to 1.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think that was also a misinterpretation from them. But they say also that the unit determinant condition precludes that the matrix is not invertible. Maybe a simplification too unless $ || A || = 1 $ precludes the non-inversibility case. $\endgroup$ – cnada Aug 21 '18 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ @cnada You're right. A more complete definition can be found in Childs' paper (third page, bottom). $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Aug 21 '18 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, non-invertible matrices have determinant 0, and this algorithm very much cares about keeping as far as possible from having an 0 eigenvalues, but that is already built in using the condition number. $\endgroup$ – DaftWullie Aug 21 '18 at 16:34

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