With a Few Square Roots, Quantum Computing Is as Easy as Pi

Jacques Carette, Chris Heunen, Robin Kaarsgaard, Amr Sabry

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Rig groupoids provide a semantic model of π, a universal classical reversible programming language over finite types. We prove that extending rig groupoids with just two maps and three equations about them results in a model of quantum computing that is computationally universal and equationally sound and complete for a variety of gate sets. The first map corresponds to an 8th root of the identity morphism on the unit 1. The second map corresponds to a square root of the symmetry on 1+1. As square roots are generally not unique and can sometimes even be trivial, the maps are constrained to satisfy a nondegeneracy axiom, which we relate to the Euler decomposition of the Hadamard gate. The semantic construction is turned into an extension of π, called √π, that is a computationally universal quantum programming language equipped with an equational theory that is sound and complete with respect to the Clifford gate set, the standard gate set of Clifford+T restricted to ≤2 qubits, and the computationally universal Gaussian Clifford+T gate set.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Programming Languages
Issue numberPOPL
Pages (from-to)546-574
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • equational theory
  • quantum programming language
  • reversible computing
  • rig category
  • unitary quantum computing


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