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Whilst reading this paper on a quantum processor that performs a type of matrix computation, I came across the concept of 'three-photon interference'. A quick Google search shows that this process is frequently referred to in quantum optical experiments but unfortunately, no wikipedia article exists for it, can anyone yield some insight on this?

My own guess is that it is exactly what it says: the interference pattern that results when 3 photons are combined. Why is this distinction so important?, why 3 photons and not 4, for example?

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  • $\begingroup$ I am not very familiar with the topic, but from searching reviewing some scientific publications, it just seems the interest come from being the simplest more-than-two photon interference. However it seems to be just one side of the full study of multiple photon interference (see book) $\endgroup$
    – rmhleo
    Sep 14, 2015 at 8:31

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Single-photon interference is demonstrated by the famous double-slit experiment. Two-photon interference is demonstrated by the Hanbury Brown and Twiss (HBT) effect and the Hong–Ou–Mandel (HOM) effect. They are significant because they are relatively simple to describe and are good demonstrations of the concept of particle-wave duality in quantum mechanics. HBT effect was once used to measure the distance between two stars before some better methods came along. Three or more photon interference cannot be simply described and is not a good demonstration of quantum mechanics. However, multi-photon interference is important in boson sampling experiments, which were first proposed in the paper https://theoryofcomputing.org/articles/v009a004/ by Aaronson and Arkhipov for proving quantum supremacy. Boson sampling and its variation -- Gaussian boson sampling may find practical use in quantum computing as proposed by scientists of Xanadu https://arxiv.org/abs/2109.12863 .

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