# Traces of products of Pauli matrices

Given a matrix $M$ of shape $2^L*2^L$, I would like to compute all the traces $\text{Tr}( M.(\sigma^{n_1}\otimes\sigma^{n_2}\otimes\ldots\otimes\sigma^{n_L}))$ for $n_1=1...4$, $n_2=1...4$, ..., $n_{L}=1...4.$, where $\sigma^n$ are the Pauli Matrices for $n=1..3$ and the identity for $n=4$. I can do this for specific values of $L$, but how do I write a function of $M$ and $L$ only that will perform this computation?

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Recalling that there is the PauliMatrix function implemented in Mathematica and you can exploit new in ver.9 tensor capabilities this task should be simple enough. In any case see closely related posts Contracting with Levi-Civita (totally antisymmetric) tensor and Using the epsilon tensor in Mathematica – Artes Apr 22 '14 at 16:45

You could define a function that constructs the product of Pauli matrices as follows. I use KroneckerProduct here because you are planning to form the matrix product with a $2L\times2L$ matrix, so we have to have the Pauli matrices arranged in a corresponding block matrix:

pauliProduct[n_] := Module[{l = Length[n]},
Total@MapIndexed[
KroneckerProduct[
DiagonalMatrix[
UnitVector[
l, #] & @@ #2],
PauliMatrix[#]] &, n]
]

MatrixForm[pauliProduct[{1, 2, 3, 4}]]


$$\left( \begin{array}{cccccccc} 0 & 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\ 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & -i & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & i & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & -1 & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 \\ \end{array} \right)$$

This has dimension $2L$, where $L$ is the length of the list $\{n_1, \ldots, n_L\}$. Then doing the trace with your matrix is easy with Tr, and the final thing is to loop over all possible lists.

The matrix above has all the 4 matrices of your basis in a row as blocks on the diagonal because I chose the list of indices to be {1, 2, 3, 4}.

Here I define a function that collects the results for all possible Tuples of indices from the range {1,2,3,4}. Although you asked for it to be a function of the matrix and $L$, it really doesn't need $L$ as an extra argument because we can assume that the matrix is of dimension $2L$. So let's just define the desired function like this:

traces[m_] :=
Table[{n, Tr[m.pauliProduct[n]]}, {n, Tuples[{1, 2, 3, 4}, Length[m]/2]}]


As an example matrix, I simply choose one of the outputs of pauliProduct itself:

m = pauliProduct[{2, 1}];


Now compute all possible traces for $L=2$:

traces[m]

(*
==> {{{1, 1}, 2}, {{1, 2}, 4}, {{1, 3}, 2}, {{1, 4}, 2}, {{2, 1},
0}, {{2, 2}, 2}, {{2, 3}, 0}, {{2, 4}, 0}, {{3, 1}, 0}, {{3, 2},
2}, {{3, 3}, 0}, {{3, 4}, 0}, {{4, 1}, 0}, {{4, 2}, 2}, {{4, 3},
0}, {{4, 4}, 0}}
*)


I wrote it so that it outputs the list of indices together with the result for the trace in one list.

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