TR23-020 Authors: Scott Aaronson, Shih-Han Hung

Publication: 3rd March 2023 01:10

Downloads: 183

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We propose an application for near-term quantum devices: namely, generating cryptographically certified random bits, to use (for example) in proof-of-stake cryptocurrencies. Our protocol repurposes the existing "quantum supremacy" experiments, based on random circuit sampling, that Google and USTC have successfully carried out starting in 2019. We show that, whenever the outputs of these experiments pass the now-standard Linear Cross-Entropy Benchmark (LXEB), under plausible hardness assumptions they necessarily contain $\Omega(n)$ min-entropy, where $n$ is the number of qubits. To achieve a net gain in randomness, we use a small random seed to produce pseudorandom challenge circuits. In response to the challenge circuits, the quantum computer generates output strings that, after verification, can then be fed into a randomness extractor to produce certified nearly-uniform bits---thereby "bootstrapping" from pseudorandomness to genuine randomness. We prove our protocol sound in two senses: (i) under a hardness assumption called Long List Quantum Supremacy Verification, which we justify in the random oracle model, and (ii) unconditionally in the random oracle model against an eavesdropper who could share arbitrary entanglement with the device. (Note that our protocol's output is unpredictable even to a computationally unbounded adversary who can see the random oracle.) Currently, the central drawback of our protocol is the exponential cost of verification, which in practice will limit its implementation to at most $n\sim 60$ qubits, a regime where attacks are expensive but not impossible. Modulo that drawback, our protocol appears to be the only practical application of quantum computing that both requires a QC and is physically realizable today.