Complex Semidefinite Programming

PICOS supports complex semidefinite programming as of version 1.0.1. It was overhauled in version 2.0 to provide some of the features showcased below. This extension of semidefinite programming to the complex domain was introduced by Goemans and Williamson [1] in order to pose relaxations of combinatorial optimization problems. Applications include quantum information theory [2] and the phase recovery problem in signal processing [3].

Complex problems can be defined in PICOS using the complex-valued variable types ComplexVariable and HermitianVariable:

>>> from picos import ComplexVariable, HermitianVariable
>>> z = ComplexVariable("z", 4)
>>> H = HermitianVariable("H", 4)
>>> z
<4×1 Complex Variable: z>
>>> H
<4×4 Hermitian Variable: H>
>>> z.real
<4×1 Real Linear Expression: Re(z)>
>>> z.imag
<4×1 Real Linear Expression: Im(z)>

Their value can be set and retrieved as in the real case but may contain an imaginary part:

>>> z.value = [1, 2+2j, 3+3j, 4j]
>>> z.value  # Note the CVXOPT typecode of 'z'.
<4x1 matrix, tc='z'>
>>> print(z)
[ 1.00e+00-j0.00e+00]
[ 2.00e+00+j2.00e+00]
[ 3.00e+00+j3.00e+00]
[ 0.00e+00+j4.00e+00]
>>> z.real.value
<4x1 matrix, tc='d'>
>>> print(z.real)
[ 1.00e+00]
[ 2.00e+00]
[ 3.00e+00]
[ 0.00e+00]
>>> print(z.imag)
[ 0.00e+00]
[ 2.00e+00]
[ 3.00e+00]
[ 4.00e+00]

Just like real variables are the simplest form of an AffineExpression, complex variables are represented to you as instances of ComplexAffineExpression. Most notably this gives access to complex conjugation and hermitian transposition:

>>> z.conj
<4×1 Complex Linear Expression: conj(z)>
>>> z.H
<1×4 Complex Linear Expression: zᴴ>

Internally complex variables are represented as real variable vectors:

>>> z.dim  # Twice its dimension on the complex field.
>>> H.dim  # The same dimension as an arbitrary real matrix of same shape.

Note that in the hermitian case, we get away with just 4 \cdot 4 = 16 real scalar variables due to the vectorization used. This leads to a smaller footprint when the problem is passed to a solver.

Unlike real-valued variables, ComplexVariable and HermitianVariable do not accept variable bounds at creation, and any properly complex expression formed from them cannot appear on either side of an affine inequality constraint or as an objective function. However, PICOS detects when you supply a real-valued expression in any of these places even if it was created from complex expressions:

>>> A = ~z*~z.H  # Use the current value of z to create a constant 4×4 matrix.
>>> A
<4×4 Complex Constant: [z]·[zᴴ]>
>>> A.hermitian  # By construction this matrix is hermitian.
>>> (H|A)  # Create a complex expression involving H.
<1×1 Complex Linear Expression: ⟨H, [z]·[zᴴ]⟩>
>>> (H|A).isreal  # On closer inspection, it is always real-valued.
>>> (H|A).refined  # This means it can be "refined" to a real expression.
<1×1 Real Linear Expression: ⟨H, [z]·[zᴴ]⟩>
>>> (H|A) >= 0  # Refinement happens automatically wherever necessary.
<1×1 Affine Constraint: ⟨H, [z]·[zᴴ]⟩ ≥ 0>
>>> H == A  # Equalities involving complex expressions can be posed as normal.
<4×4 Complex Equality Constraint: H = [z]·[zᴴ]>

Complex linear matrix inequalities are created just as in the real case with the overloaded << and >> operators representing the Loewner order:

>>> H >> 0
<4×4 Complex LMI Constraint: H ≽ 0>

Since solvers at this time generally do not support complex optimization, PICOS transforms such a constraint to an equivalent real LMI during solution search. Only to demonstrate this behavior, we do it manually:

>>> from picos import Options
>>> from picos.constraints import ComplexLMIConstraint
>>> P = ComplexLMIConstraint.RealConversion.convert(H >> 0, Options())
>>> P.get_constraint(0)
<8×8 LMI Constraint: [Re(H), -Im(H); Im(H), Re(H)] ≽ 0>

Fidelity in Quantum Information Theory

The material of this section is inspired by a lecture of John Watrous [4].

The fidelity between two (hermitian) positive semidefinite operators P and Q is defined as

= \left\Vert P^{\frac{1}{2}} Q^{\frac{1}{2}} \right\Vert_{\text{tr}}
= \max_U \left|
    \operatorname{trace}\left(P^{\frac{1}{2}} U Q^{\frac{1}{2}}\right)

where the trace norm \Vert \cdot \Vert_{\text{tr}} is the sum of the singular values, and the maximization goes over the set of all unitary matrices U. This quantity can be expressed as the optimal value of the following complex-valued SDP:

    &\underset{Z \in \mathbb{C}^{n \times n}}{\mbox{maximize}}
    &\frac{1}{2}\operatorname{trace}(Z + Z^*)
    &\mbox{subject to}
        P & Z \\
        Z^* & Q
    \end{array}\right) \succeq 0

This model can be implemented in PICOS as follows:

import numpy
import picos

# Create a positive semidefinite constant P.
_P = picos.Constant([
    [ 1  -1j,  2  +2j,  1     ],
    [     3j,     -2j, -1  -1j],
    [ 1  +2j, -0.5+1j,  1.5   ]])
P = (_P*_P.H).renamed("P")

# Create a positive semidefinite constant Q.
_Q = picos.Constant([
    [-1  -2j,      2j,  1.5   ],
    [ 1  +2j,     -2j,  2.0-3j],
    [ 1  +2j, -1  +1j,  1  +4j]])
Q = (_Q*_Q.H).renamed("Q")

# Define the problem.
F = picos.Problem()
Z = picos.ComplexVariable("Z", P.shape)
F.set_objective("max", 0.5*picos.trace(Z + Z.H))
F.add_constraint(((P & Z) // (Z.H & Q)) >> 0)


# Solve the problem.
F.solve(solver = "cvxopt")

print("\nOptimal value:", round(F, 4))
print("Optimal Z:", Z.value, sep="\n")

# Also compute the fidelity via NumPy for comparison.
PP  = numpy.matrix(P.value)
QQ  = numpy.matrix(Q.value)
S,U = numpy.linalg.eig(PP)
sqP = U * numpy.diag([s**0.5 for s in S]) * U.H  # Square root of P.
S,U = numpy.linalg.eig(QQ)
sqQ = U * numpy.diag([s**0.5 for s in S]) * U.H  # Square root of Q.
Fnp = sum(numpy.linalg.svd(sqP * sqQ)[1])  # Trace-norm of sqrt(P)·sqrt(Q).

print("Fidelity F(P,Q) computed by NumPy:", round(Fnp, 4))
Complex Semidefinite Program
  maximize 0.5·tr(Z + Zᴴ)
    3×3 complex variable Z
  subject to
    [P, Z; Zᴴ, Q] ≽ 0

Optimal value: 39.8938
Optimal Z:
[ 1.06e+01+j2.04e+00 -7.21e+00+j5.77e+00  3.58e+00-j8.10e+00]
[-8.26e+00-j2.13e+00  1.65e+01+j3.61e-01  8.59e-02-j2.29e+00]
[-1.38e+00+j6.42e+00 -5.65e-01+j1.55e+00  1.28e+01-j2.40e+00]

Fidelity F(P,Q) computed by NumPy: 39.8938

Phase Recovery in Signal Processing

This section is inspired by [3].

The goal of the phase recovery problem is to reconstruct the complex phase of a vector given only the magnitudes of some linear measurements. This problem can be formulated as a non-convex optimization problem, and the authors of [3] have proposed a complex semidefinite relaxation similar to the well known relaxation of the Max-Cut Problem: Given a linear operator A and a vector b of measured amplitudes, define the positive semidefinite hermitian matrix

M = \operatorname{Diag}(b) (I - AA^\dagger) \operatorname{Diag}(b).

The Phase-Cut Problem is:

    &\underset{U \in \mathbb{H}_n}{\mbox{minimize}}
    &\langle U, M \rangle
    &\mbox{subject to}
    &\operatorname{diag}(U) = 1
    &&U \succeq 0

Note that U must be hermitian (U \in \mathbb{H}_n ). We obtain an exact solution u to the phase recovery problem if U = uu^* has rank one. Otherwise, the leading singular vector of U is used as an approximation.

This problem can be implemented as follows using PICOS:

import cvxopt
import numpy
import picos

# Make the output reproducible.

# Generate an arbitrary rank-deficient hermitian matrix M.
n, rank = 5, 4
m = cvxopt.normal(n, rank) + 1j*cvxopt.normal(n, rank)
M = picos.Constant("M", m*m.H)

# Define the problem.
P = picos.Problem()
U = picos.HermitianVariable("U", n)
P.set_objective("min", (U | M))
P.add_constraint(picos.maindiag(U) == 1)
P.add_constraint(U >> 0)


# Solve the problem.

print("\nOptimal U:", U, sep="\n")

# Determine the rank of U.
S, V = numpy.linalg.eig(U.value)
Urnk = len([s for s in S if abs(s) > 1e-6])

print("\nrank(U) =", Urnk)
Complex Semidefinite Program
  minimize ⟨U, M⟩
    5×5 hermitian variable U
  subject to
    maindiag(U) = [1]
    U ≽ 0

Optimal U:
[ 1.00e+00-j0.00e+00  6.31e-01-j7.76e-01 -8.84e-01+j4.68e-01  6.23e-01-j7.82e-01  7.52e-01+j6.59e-01]
[ 6.31e-01+j7.76e-01  1.00e+00-j0.00e+00 -9.20e-01-j3.91e-01  1.00e+00-j9.69e-03 -3.75e-02+j9.99e-01]
[-8.84e-01-j4.68e-01 -9.20e-01+j3.91e-01  1.00e+00-j0.00e+00 -9.17e-01+j4.00e-01 -3.56e-01-j9.34e-01]
[ 6.23e-01+j7.82e-01  1.00e+00+j9.69e-03 -9.17e-01-j4.00e-01  1.00e+00-j0.00e+00 -4.72e-02+j9.99e-01]
[ 7.52e-01-j6.59e-01 -3.75e-02-j9.99e-01 -3.56e-01+j9.34e-01 -4.72e-02-j9.99e-01  1.00e+00-j0.00e+00]

rank(U) = 1


  1. “Approximation algorithms for MAX-3-CUT and other problems via complex semidefinite programming”, M.X. Goemans and D. Williamson. In Proceedings of the thirty-third annual ACM symposium on Theory of computing, pp. 443-452. ACM, 2001.

  2. “Semidefinite programs for completely bounded norms”, J. Watrous, arXiv preprint 0901.4709, 2009.

  3. “Phase recovery, maxcut and complex semidefinite programming”, I. Waldspurger, A. d’Aspremont, and S. Mallat. Mathematical Programming, pp. 1-35, 2012.

  4. “Semidefinite programs for fidelity and optimal measurements”, J. Watrous. In the script of a course on Theory of Quantum Information,