We know that NAND gates are universal for deterministic classical circuits, Toffoli gates are universal for reversible deterministic classical circuits, and Clifford+T is universal for quantum circuits. However, what about classical probabilistic circuits?

It seems like if you had a "coin-flip" gate (takes no input/any input and produces 0 or 1, each with probability 1/2) and NAND, you could build any probabilistic circuit you want (up to some level of precision) with a rejection sampling procedure. The desired probabilistic circuit can be seen as a set of deterministic circuits, chosen according to some distribution; use rejection sampling to simulate that distribution and then apply the required deterministic circuit.

(by the same argument, any gate that produces a fixed, non-trivial probability distribution, plus NAND, would be universal).

Is this a question that has been looked into? Any results that I can cite?

  • $\begingroup$ Not sure what you mean by a "coin-flip gate ". Could you give us the truth table for such a gate ? $\endgroup$ Mar 11 '19 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know how to represent a probabilistic gate with a truth table. A "coin-flip gate" would be a 1/2 probability of an identity gate, and a 1/2 probability of a NOT gate $\endgroup$
    – Sam Jaques
    Mar 11 '19 at 16:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well Sam, here is your chance to become famous, invent a whole new form of truth table for the gate, it will be named the " Jaques Gate" LOL $\endgroup$ Mar 17 '19 at 19:28

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