Codeword stabilized (CWS) code[1]


This family of codes strictly generalizes stabilizer codes. They are usually denoted by \( \mathcal{Q} = (\mathcal{G},\mathcal{C}) \) where \(\mathcal{G}\) is a graph and \(\mathcal{C}\) is a \( (n,K,d) \) binary classical code. From the graph we form the unique graph state (stabilizer state) \( |G \rangle \). From the classical code we form Pauli \(Z\)-type operators \( W_i = Z^{c_{i,1}} \otimes \cdots \otimes Z^{c_{i,n}} \), where \(c_{i,j} \) is the \(j\)-th bit of the \(i\)-th classical codeword. The CWS codewords are then \( | i \rangle = W_i | G \rangle \).

There is an alternative description to the one above that is locally Clifford-equivalent. In particular, we can describe CWS codes as \( \mathcal{Q} = (S,\mathcal{W})\) where \(S\) is a stabilizer group and \( \mathcal{W} = \{ w_\ell \}_{\ell = 1}^K \) is a family of \(K\) \(n\)-qubit Pauli strings. We then form CWS codeswords as \( | i \rangle = w_i | S \rangle \), where \( | S \rangle \) is the (unique) stabilizer state of \(S\).


Code distance \(\mathcal{Q} = ( \mathcal{G},\mathcal{C}) \) is upper bounded by the distance of the classical code \(\mathcal{C} \). The diagonal distance is upper bounded by \(\delta + 1\), where \(\delta\) is the minimum degree of \(\mathcal{G}\). Computing the distance is generally NP-complete, and is NP-hard for non-degenerate codes [2].


If \( \mathcal{C} \) has an efficient classical encoder, then so does the CWS code \( \mathcal{Q} = (\mathcal{G},\mathcal{C}) \).


There is no known efficient algorithm to decode non-additive (non-stabilizer) CWS codes.



  • Qubit stabilizer code — If the CWS set \( \mathcal{W} \) is an abelian group not containing \(-I\), then the CWS code is a stabilizer code.


  • Movassagh-Ouyang Hamiltonian code — The Movassagh-Ouyang codes overlap the CWS codes but neither family is contained in the other.
  • Spacetime code (STC) — CWS codes have been considered in the context of spacetime replication of quantum data [3][4], while STCs are designed to replicate classical data.
  • XP stabilizer code — The orbit representatives of XP codes play a similar role to the word operators of CWS codes.

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Internal code ID: cws

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Zoo Code ID: cws

Cite as:
“Codeword stabilized (CWS) code”, The Error Correction Zoo (V. V. Albert & P. Faist, eds.), 2022.
@incollection{eczoo_cws, title={Codeword stabilized (CWS) code}, booktitle={The Error Correction Zoo}, year={2022}, editor={Albert, Victor V. and Faist, Philippe}, url={} }
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A. Cross et al., “Codeword Stabilized Quantum Codes”, IEEE Transactions on Information Theory 55, 433 (2009). DOI; 0708.1021
Upendra Kapshikar and Srijita Kundu, “Diagonal distance of quantum codes and hardness of the minimum distance problem”. 2203.04262
P. Hayden and A. May, “Summoning information in spacetime, or where and when can a qubit be?”, Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical 49, 175304 (2016). DOI; 1210.0913
P. Hayden et al., “Spacetime replication of continuous variable quantum information”, New Journal of Physics 18, 083043 (2016). DOI; 1601.02544

Cite as:

“Codeword stabilized (CWS) code”, The Error Correction Zoo (V. V. Albert & P. Faist, eds.), 2022.