Optimal control landscape for the generation of unitary transformations

Michael Hsieh, Herschel Rabitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The generation of specific unitary transformations is central to a variety of quantum control problems. Given a target unitary transformation, the optimal control landscape is defined as the Hilbert-Schmidt distance between the target and controlled unitary transformation as a function of the control variables. The critical topology of the landscape is analyzed for controllable quantum systems evolving under unitary dynamics over a finite dimensional Hilbert space. It is found that the critical regions of the landscape corresponding to global optima are isolated points, and the local optima are Grassmannian submanifolds. The volumes of the critical submanifolds corresponding to suboptimal critical values asymptotically vanish in the limit of large Hilbert space dimension. Furthermore, these critical submanifolds have saddle-point topology, which cannot act as traps when searching for optimal controls. These favorable properties of the local optima suggest that the landscape topology is generally amenable to optimization. The analysis is independent of the particular structure of the system Hamiltonian, except for the assumption of full controllability, and the results are universal to the control of unitary transformations of any quantum system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number042306
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 7 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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