Thursday, 22 September 2016

The BB84 protocol for quantum key distribution

The most successful application of quantum theory to cryptography is quantum key distribution (QKD). The goal of QKD is to generate an identical string of bits that is privately shared between two parties, which we shall call Alice and Bob.

The particular QKD scheme that we will describe was proposed by Charles Bennett and Gilles Brassard in 1984, and is often referred to as BB84.

The protocol has two main parts, a quantum and classical phase. In the quantum phase, Alice sends single photons to Bob over some public quantum channel. In the classical phase, Alice and Bob need to talk to each other over an authenticated classical channel, that is, it can be public but they need to verify that they are talking to the correct person.

Friday, 15 July 2016

The CHSH game and quantum entanglement

A simple setting for demonstrating the usefulness of entanglement involves a two-player game known as the CHSH game. The game is a variant of an experimental setup (by Clauser, Horne, Shimony and Holt) that is often used to illustrate Bell's theorem.

We shall call the two players 2 players Alice and Bob. We will also have Charlie as a referee that decides if Alice and Bob wins the game. They can decide on any strategy before the game commences but they cannot communicate with each other once the game starts.

To begin, Charlie picks two uniformly random bits $x$ and $y$, and gives $x$ to Alice and $y$ to Bob. Alice answers the referee with bit $a$, while Bob replies with bit $b$. After getting $a$ and $b$, Charlie checks whether

$a \oplus b = xy  \mod{2}$,

that is, that the XOR of the output bits $a$ and $b$ is equal to the AND of input bits $x$ and $y$. If so, then Alice and Bob win the game.