### Abstract

Quantum theory is consistent with a computational model permitting black-box operations to be applied in an indefinite causal order, going beyond the standard circuit model of computation. The quantum switch – the simplest such example – has been shown to provide numerous information-processing advantages. Here, we prove that the action of the quantum switch on two $n$-qubit quantum channels cannot be simulated deterministically and exactly by any causally ordered quantum circuit that uses $M$ calls to one channel and one call to the other, if $M \leq \max(2, 2^n-1)$. This demonstrates an exponential separation in quantum query complexity of indefinite causal order compared to standard quantum circuits.

Publication

Exponential separation in quantum query complexity of the quantum switch with respect to simulations with standard quantum circuits

Quantum theory is consistent with a computational model permitting black-box operations to be applied in an indefinite causal order, going beyond the standard circuit model of computation. The quantum switch – the simplest such example – has been shown to provide numerous information-processing advantages. Here, we prove that the action of the quantum switch on two $n$-qubit quantum channels cannot be simulated deterministically and exactly by any causally ordered quantum circuit that uses $M$ calls to one channel and one call to the other, if $M \leq \max(2, 2^n-1)$. This demonstrates an exponential separation in quantum query complexity of indefinite causal order compared to standard quantum circuits.