Discrete Wigner formalism for qubits and noncontextuality of Clifford gates on qubit stabilizer states
We show that qubit stabilizer states can be represented by non-negative quasiprobability distributions associated with a Wigner-Weyl-Moyal formalism where Clifford gates are positive state-independent maps. This is accomplished by generalizing the Wigner-Weyl-Moyal formalism to three generators instead of two—producing an exterior, or Grassmann, algebra—which results in Clifford group gates for qubits that act as a permutation on the finite Weyl phase space points naturally associated with stabilizer states. As a result, a non-negative probability distribution can be associated with each stabilizer state's three-generator Wigner function, and these distributions evolve deterministically to one another under Clifford gates. This corresponds to a hidden variable theory that is noncontextual and local for qubit Clifford gates while Clifford (Pauli) measurements have a context-dependent representation. Equivalently, we show that qubit Clifford gates can be expressed as propagators within the three-generator Wigner-Weyl-Moyal formalism whose semiclassical expansion is truncated at order ℏ0 with a finite number of terms. The T gate, which extends the Clifford gate set to one capable of universal quantum computation, requires a semiclassical expansion of the propagator to order ℏ1. We compare this approach to previous quasiprobability descriptions of qubits that relied on the two-generator Wigner-Weyl-Moyal formalism and find that the two-generator Weyl symbols of stabilizer states result in a description of evolution under Clifford gates that is state-dependent, in contrast to the three-generator formalism. We have thus extended Wigner non-negative quasiprobability distributions from the odd d -dimensional case to d =2 qubits, which describe the noncontextuality of Clifford gates and contextuality of Pauli measurements on qubit stabilizer states.