# Publications

All papers are available on arXiv, Google Scholar, and ORCiD.

### Faster-than-Clifford Simulations of Entanglement Purification Circuits and Their Full-stack Optimization

*Vaishnavi L. Addala, Shu Ge, Stefan Krastanov*

**preprint 2023-07-12**

## Quantum Entanglement is a fundamentally important resource in Quantum Information Science; however, generating it in practice is plagued by noise and decoherence, limiting its utility. Entanglement distillation and forward error correction are the tools we employ to combat this noise, but designing the best distillation and error correction circuits that ... [click to read more]

function well, especially on today's imperfect hardware, is still challenging. Here, we develop a simulation algorithm for distillation circuits with gate-simulation complexity of $\mathcal{O}(1)$ steps, providing for drastically faster modeling compared to $\mathcal{O}(n)$ Clifford simulators or $\mathcal{O}(2^n)$ wavefunction simulators over $n$ qubits. This new simulator made it possible to not only model but also optimize practically interesting purification circuits. It enabled us to use a simple discrete optimization algorithm to design purification circuits from $n$ raw Bell pairs to $k$ purified pairs and study the use of these circuits in the teleportation of logical qubits in second-generation quantum repeaters. The resulting purification circuits are the best-known purification circuits for finite-size noisy hardware and can be fine-tuned for specific hardware error models. Furthermore, we design purification circuits that shape the correlations of errors in the purified pairs such that the performance of the error-correcting code used in teleportation or other higher-level protocols is greatly improved. Our approach of optimizing multiple layers of the networking stack, both the low-level entanglement purification, and the forward error correction on top of it, are shown to be indispensable for the design of high-performance second-generation quantum repeaters.

### Quantum theory of single-photon nonlinearities generated by ensembles of emitters

*Kurt Jacobs, Stefan Krastanov, Mikkel Heuck, Dirk R. Englund*

**preprint 2023-07-03**

## The achievement of sufficiently fast interactions between two optical fields at the few-photon level would provide a key enabler for a broad range of quantum technologies. One critical hurdle in this endeavor is the lack of a comprehensive quantum theory of the generation of nonlinearities by ensembles of emitters. Distinct ... [click to read more]

approaches applicable to different regimes have yielded important insights: i) a semiclassical approach reveals that, for many-photon coherent fields, the contributions of independent emitters add independently allowing ensembles to produce strong optical nonlinearities via EIT; ii) a quantum analysis has shown that in the few-photon regime collective coupling effects prevent ensembles from inducing these strong nonlinearities. Rather surprisingly, experimental results with around twenty photons are in line with the semi-classical predictions. Theoretical analysis has been fragmented due to the difficulty of treating nonlinear many-body quantum systems. Here we are able to solve this problem by constructing a powerful theory of the generation of optical nonlinearities by single emitters and ensembles. The key to this construction is the application of perturbation theory to perturbations generated by subsystems. This theory reveals critical properties of ensembles that have long been obscure. The most remarkable of these is the discovery that quantum effects prevent ensembles generating single-photon nonlinearities only within the rotating-wave regime; outside this regime single-photon nonlinearities scale as the number of emitters. The theory we present here also provides an efficient way to calculate nonlinearities for arbitrary multi-level driving schemes, and we expect that it will prove a powerful foundation for further advances in this area.

### Near-term $n$ to $k$ distillation protocols using graph codes

*Kenneth Goodenough, Sébastian de Bone, Vaishnavi L. Addala, Stefan Krastanov, Sarah Jansen, Dion Gijswijt, David Elkouss*

**preprint 2023-03-20**

## Noisy hardware forms one of the main hurdles to the realization of a near-term quantum internet. Distillation protocols allows one to overcome this noise at the cost of an increased overhead. We consider here an experimentally relevant class of distillation protocols, which distill $n$ to $k$ end-to-end entangled pairs using ... [click to read more]

bilocal Clifford operations, a single round of communication and a possible final local operation depending on the observed measurement outcomes. In the case of permutationally invariant depolarizing noise on the input states, we find a correspondence between these distillation protocols and graph codes. We leverage this correspondence to find provably optimal distillation protocols in this class for several tasks important for the quantum internet. This correspondence allows us to investigate use cases for so-called non-trivial measurement syndromes. Furthermore, we detail a recipe to construct the circuit used for the distillation protocol given a graph code. We use this to find circuits of short depth and small number of two-qubit gates. Additionally, we develop a black-box circuit optimization algorithm, and find that both approaches yield comparable circuits. Finally, we investigate the teleportation of encoded states and find protocols which jointly improve the rate and fidelities with respect to prior art.

### All-Photonic Artificial Neural Network Processor Via Non-linear Optics

*Jasvith Raj Basani, Mikkel Heuck, Dirk R. Englund, Stefan Krastanov*

**preprint 2022-05-17**

## Optics and photonics has recently captured interest as a platform to accelerate linear matrix processing, that has been deemed as a bottleneck in traditional digital electronic architectures. In this paper, we propose an all-photonic artificial neural network processor wherein information is encoded in the amplitudes of frequency modes that act ... [click to read more]

as neurons. The weights among connected layers are encoded in the amplitude of controlled frequency modes that act as pumps. Interaction among these modes for information processing is enabled by non-linear optical processes. Both the matrix multiplication and element-wise activation functions are performed through coherent processes, enabling the direct representation of negative and complex numbers without the use of detectors or digital electronics. Via numerical simulations, we show that our design achieves a performance commensurate with present-day state-of-the-art computational networks on image-classification benchmarks. Our architecture is unique in providing a completely unitary, reversible mode of computation. Additionally, the computational speed increases with the power of the pumps to arbitrarily high rates, as long as the circuitry can sustain the higher optical power.

### Spin-Phonon-Photon Strong Coupling in a Piezomechanical Nanocavity

*Hamza Raniwala, Stefan Krastanov, Lisa Hackett, Matt Eichenfield, Dirk R. Englund, Matthew E. Trusheim*

**preprint 2022-02-22**

## We introduce a hybrid tripartite quantum system for strong coupling between a semiconductor spin, a mechanical phonon, and a microwave photon. Consisting of a piezoelectric resonator with an integrated diamond strain concentrator, this system achieves microwave-acoustic and spin-acoustic coupling rates $\sim$MHz or greater, allowing for simultaneous ultra-high cooperativities ($\sim 10^3$ ... [click to read more]

and $\sim 10^2$, respectively). From finite-element modeling and master equation simulations, we estimate photon-to-spin quantum state transfer fidelities exceeding 0.97 based on separately demonstrated device parameters. We anticipate that this device will enable hybrid quantum architectures that leverage the advantages of both superconducting circuits and solid-state spins for information processing, memory, and networking.

### A spin-optomechanical quantum interface enabled by an ultrasmall mechanical and optical mode volume cavity

*Hamza Raniwala, Stefan Krastanov, Matt Eichenfield, Dirk Englund*

**preprint 2022-02-14**

## We propose a coherent mechanical interface between defect centers in diamond and telecom optical modes. Combining recent developments in spin-mechanical devices and optomechanical crystals, we introduce a 1D diamond nanobeam with embedded mechanical and electric field concentrator with mechanical and optical mode volumes $V_\mathrm{mech}/\Lambda_\mathrm{p}^3\sim 10^{-5}$ and $V_\mathrm{opt}/\lambda^3\sim 10^{-3} $, respectively. ... [click to read more]

By placing a Group IV vacancy in the concentrator we demonstrate exquisitely high spin-mechanical coupling rates approaching 40 MHz, while retaining high acousto-optical couplings. We theoretically show that such a device, used in an entanglement heralding scheme, can provide high-fidelity Bell pairs between quantum repeaters. Using the mechanical interface as an intermediary between the optical and spin subsystems, we are able to directly use telecom optics, bypassing the native wavelength requirements of the spin. As the spin is never optically excited or addressed, we do not suffer from spectral diffusion and can operate at higher temperatures (up to 40 K), limited only by thermal losses. We estimate that based on these metrics, optomechanical devices with high spin-mechanical coupling will be a useful architecture for near-term quantum repeaters.

### Controlled-Phase Gate by Dynamic Coupling of Photons to a Two-Level Emitter

*Stefan Krastanov, Kurt Jacobs, Gerald Gilbert, Dirk R. Englund, Mikkel Heuck*

**npj Quantum Information volume 8, Article number: 103 (2022)**

## We propose an architecture for achieving high-fidelity deterministic quantum logic gates on dual-rail encoded photonic qubits by letting photons interact with a two-level emitter (TLE) inside an optical cavity. The photon wave packets that define the qubit are preserved after the interaction due to a quantum control process that actively ... [click to read more]

loads and unloads the photons from the cavity and dynamically alters their effective coupling to the TLE. The controls rely on nonlinear wave mixing between cavity modes enhanced by strong externally modulated electromagnetic fields or on AC Stark shifts of the TLE transition energy. We numerically investigate the effect of imperfections in terms of loss and dephasing of the TLE as well as control field miscalibration. Our results suggest that III-V quantum dots in GaAs membranes is a promising platform for photonic quantum information processing.

### Optically-Heralded Entanglement of Superconducting Systems in Quantum Networks

*Stefan Krastanov, Hamza Raniwala, Jeffrey Holzgrafe, Kurt Jacobs, Marko Lončar, Matthew J. Reagor, Dirk R. Englund*

**Phys. Rev. Lett. 127, 040503 (2021)**

## Networking superconducting quantum computers is a longstanding challenge in quantum science. The typical approach has been to cascade transducers: converting to optical frequencies at the transmitter and to microwave frequencies at the receiver. However, the small microwave-optical coupling and added noise have proven formidable obstacles. Instead, we propose optical networking ... [click to read more]

via heralding end-to-end entanglement with one detected photon and teleportation. In contrast to cascaded direct transduction, our scheme absorbs the low optical-microwave coupling efficiency into the heralding step, thus breaking the rate-fidelity trade-off. Moreover, this technique unifies and simplifies entanglement generation between superconducting devices and other physical modalities in quantum networks.

### Purification and Entanglement Routing on Quantum Networks

*Michelle Victora, Stefan Krastanov, Alexander Sanchez de la Cerda, Steven Willis, Prineha Narang*

**preprint 2020-11-23**

## We present an approach to purification and entanglement routing on complex quantum network architectures, that is, how a quantum network equipped with imperfect channel fidelities and limited memory storage time can distribute entanglement between users. We explore how network parameters influence the performance of path-finding algorithms necessary for optimizing routing ... [click to read more]

and, in particular, we explore the interplay between the bandwidth of a quantum channels and the choice of purification protocol. Finally, we demonstrate multi-path routing on various network topologies with resource constraints, in an effort to inform future design choices for quantum network configurations. Our work optimizes both the choice of path over the quantum network and the choice of purification schemes used between nodes. We consider not only pair-production rate, but optimize over the fidelity of the delivered entangled state. We introduce effective heuristics enabling fast path-finding algorithms for maximizing entanglement shared between two nodes on a quantum network, with performance comparable to that of a computationally-expensive brute-force path search.

### Heterogeneous Multipartite Entanglement Purification for Size-Constrained Quantum Devices

*Stefan Krastanov, Alexander Sanchez de la Cerda, Prineha Narang*

**Phys. Rev. Research 3, 033164 (2021)**

## The entanglement resource required for quantum information processing comes in a variety of forms, from Bell states to multipartite GHZ states or cluster states. Purifying these resources after their imperfect generation is an indispensable step towards using them in quantum architectures. While this challenge, both in the case of Bell ... [click to read more]

pairs and more general multipartite entangled states, is mostly overcome in the presence of perfect local quantum hardware with unconstrained qubit register sizes, devising optimal purification strategies for finite-size realistic noisy hardware has remained elusive. Here we depart from the typical purification paradigm for multipartite states explored in the last twenty years. We present cases where the hardware limitations are taken into account, and surprisingly find that smaller `sacrificial' states, like Bell pairs, can be more useful in the purification of multipartite states than additional copies of these same states. This drastically simplifies the requirements and presents a fundamentally new pathway to leverage near term networked quantum hardware.

### Quantum coding with low-depth random circuits

*Michael J. Gullans, Stefan Krastanov, David A. Huse, Liang Jiang, Steven T. Flammia*

**Phys. Rev. X 11, 031066 (2021)**

## Random quantum circuits have played a central role in establishing the computational advantages of near-term quantum computers over their conventional counterparts. Here, we use ensembles of low-depth random circuits with local connectivity in $D\ge 1$ spatial dimensions to generate quantum error-correcting codes. For random stabilizer codes and the erasure channel, ... [click to read more]

we find strong evidence that a depth $O(\log N)$ random circuit is necessary and sufficient to converge (with high probability) to zero failure probability for any finite amount below the optimal erasure threshold, set by the channel capacity, for any $D$. Previous results on random circuits have only shown that $O(N^{1/D})$ depth suffices or that $O(\log^3 N)$ depth suffices for all-to-all connectivity ($D \to \infty$). We then study the critical behavior of the erasure threshold in the so-called moderate deviation limit, where both the failure probability and the distance to the optimal threshold converge to zero with $N$. We find that the requisite depth scales like $O(\log N)$ only for dimensions $D \ge 2$, and that random circuits require $O(\sqrt{N})$ depth for $D=1$. Finally, we introduce an "expurgation" algorithm that uses quantum measurements to remove logical operators that cause the code to fail by turning them into additional stabilizers or gauge operators. With such targeted measurements, we can achieve sub-logarithmic depth in $D\ge 2$ below capacity without increasing the maximum weight of the check operators. We find that for any rate beneath the capacity, high-performing codes with thousands of logical qubits are achievable with depth 4-8 expurgated random circuits in $D=2$ dimensions. These results indicate that finite-rate quantum codes are practically relevant for near-term devices and may significantly reduce the resource requirements to achieve fault tolerance for near-term applications.

### Unboxing Quantum Black Box Models: Learning Non-Markovian Dynamics

*Stefan Krastanov, Kade Head-Marsden, Sisi Zhou, Steven T. Flammia, Liang Jiang, Prineha Narang*

**preprint 2020-09-08**

## Characterizing the memory properties of the environment has become critical for the high-fidelity control of qubits and other advanced quantum systems. However, current non-Markovian tomography techniques are either limited to discrete superoperators, or they employ machine learning methods, neither of which provide physical insight into the dynamics of the quantum ... [click to read more]

system. To circumvent this limitation, we design learning architectures that explicitly encode physical constraints like the properties of completely-positive trace-preserving maps in a differential form. This method preserves the versatility of the machine learning approach without sacrificing the efficiency and fidelity of traditional parameter estimation methods. Our approach provides the physical interpretability that machine learning and opaque superoperators lack. Moreover, it is aware of the underlying continuous dynamics typically disregarded by superoperator-based tomography. This paradigm paves the way to noise-aware optimal quantum control and opens a path to exploiting the bath as a control and error mitigation resource.

### Capturing Non-Markovian Dynamics on Near-Term Quantum Computers

*Kade Head-Marsden, Stefan Krastanov, David A. Mazziotti, Prineha Narang*

**Phys. Rev. Research 3, 013182 (2021)**

## With the rapid progress in quantum hardware, there has been an increased interest in new quantum algorithms to describe complex many-body systems searching for the still-elusive goal of 'useful quantum advantage'. Surprisingly, quantum algorithms for the treatment of open quantum systems (OQSs) have remained under-explored, in part due to the ... [click to read more]

inherent challenges of mapping non-unitary evolution into the framework of unitary gates. Evolving an open system unitarily necessitates dilation into a new effective system to incorporate critical environmental degrees of freedom. In this context, we present and validate a new quantum algorithm to treat non-Markovian dynamics in OQSs built on the Ensemble of Lindblad's Trajectories approach, invoking the Sz.-Nagy dilation theorem. Here we demonstrate our algorithm on the Jaynes-Cummings model in the strong coupling and detuned regimes, relevant in quantum optics and driven quantum systems studies. This algorithm, a key step towards generalized modeling of non-Markovian dynamics on a noisy-quantum device, captures a broad class of dynamics and opens up a new direction in OQS problems.

### Efficient cavity control with SNAP gates

*Thomas Fösel, Stefan Krastanov, Florian Marquardt, Liang Jiang*

**preprint 2020-04-29**

## Microwave cavities coupled to superconducting qubits have been demonstrated to be a promising platform for quantum information processing. A major challenge in this setup is to realize universal control over the cavity. A promising approach are selective number-dependent arbitrary phase (SNAP) gates combined with cavity displacements. It has been proven ... [click to read more]

that this is a universal gate set, but a central question remained open so far: how can a given target operation be realized efficiently with a sequence of these operations. In this work, we present a practical scheme to address this problem. It involves a hierarchical strategy to insert new gates into a sequence, followed by a co-optimization of the control parameters, which generates short high-fidelity sequences. For a broad range of experimentally relevant applications, we find that they can be implemented with 3 to 4 SNAP gates, compared to up to 50 with previously known techniques.

### Room-Temperature Photonic Logical Qubits via Second-Order Nonlinearities

*Stefan Krastanov, Mikkel Heuck, Jeffrey H. Shapiro, Prineha Narang, Dirk R. Englund, Kurt Jacobs*

**Nature Communications volume 12, Article number: 191 (2021)**

## Recent progress in nonlinear optical materials and microresonators has brought quantum computing with bulk optical nonlinearities into the realm of possibility. This platform is of great interest, not only because photonics is an obvious choice for quantum networks, but also because it may be the only feasible route to quantum ... [click to read more]

information processing at room temperature. We introduce a paradigm for room-temperature photonic quantum logic that significantly simplifies the realization of various quantum circuits, and in particular, of error correction. It uses only the strongest available bulk nonlinearity, namely the $\chi^{(2)}$ nonlinear susceptibility. The key element is a three-mode resonator that implements programmable bosonic quantum logic gates. We show that just two of these elements suffice for a complete, compact error-correction circuit on a bosonic code, without the need for measurement or feed-forward control. An extrapolation of current progress in nonlinear optical materials and photonic circuits indicates that such circuitry should be achievable within the next decade.

### Stochastic Estimation of Dynamical Variables

*Stefan Krastanov, Sisi Zhou, Steven T. Flammia, Liang Jiang*

**Quantum Science and Technology, Volume 4 (2019), 035003**

## Estimating the parameters governing the dynamics of a system is a prerequisite for its optimal control. We present a simple but powerful method that we call STEADY, for STochastic Estimation algorithm for DYnamical variables, to estimate the Hamiltonian (or Lindbladian) governing a quantum system of a few qubits. STEADY makes ... [click to read more]

efficient use of all measurements and its performance scales as the information-theoretic limits for such an estimator. Importantly, it is inherently robust to state preparation and measurement errors. It is not limited to evaluating only a fixed set of possible gates, rather it estimates the complete Hamiltonian of the system. The estimator is applicable to any Hamiltonian that can be written as a piecewise-differentiable function and it can easily include estimators for the non-unitary parameters as well. At the heart of our approach is a stochastic gradient descent over the difference between experimental measurement and model prediction.

### Optimized Entanglement Purification

*Stefan Krastanov, Victor V. Albert, Liang Jiang*

## We investigate novel protocols for entanglement purification of qubit Bell pairs. Employing genetic algorithms for the design of the purification circuit, we obtain shorter circuits achieving higher success rates and better final fidelities than what is currently available in the literature. We provide a software tool for analytical and numerical ... [click to read more]

study of the generated purification circuits, under customizable error models. These new purification protocols pave the way to practical implementations of modular quantum computers and quantum repeaters. Our approach is particularly attentive to the effects of finite resources and imperfect local operations - phenomena neglected in the usual asymptotic approach to the problem. The choice of the building blocks permitted in the construction of the circuits is based on a thorough enumeration of the local Clifford operations that act as permutations on the basis of Bell states.

### Deep Neural Network Probabilistic Decoder for Stabilizer Codes

*Stefan Krastanov, Liang Jiang*

**Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 11003 (2017)**

## Neural networks can efficiently encode the probability distribution of errors in an error correcting code. Moreover, these distributions can be conditioned on the syndromes of the corresponding errors. This paves a path forward for a decoder that employs a neural network to calculate the conditional distribution, then sample from the ... [click to read more]

distribution - the sample will be the predicted error for the given syndrome. We present an implementation of such an algorithm that can be applied to any stabilizer code. Testing it on the toric code, it has higher threshold than a number of known decoders thanks to naturally finding the most probable error and accounting for correlations between errors.

### Quantum Channel Construction with Circuit Quantum Electrodynamics

*Chao Shen, Kyungjoo Noh, Victor V. Albert, Stefan Krastanov, Michel H. Devoret, Robert J. Schoelkopf, S. M. Girvin, Liang Jiang*

**Phys. Rev. B 95, 134501 (2017)**

## Quantum channels can describe all transformations allowed by quantum mechanics. We provide an explicit universal protocol to construct all possible quantum channels, using a single qubit ancilla with quantum non-demolition readout and adaptive control. Our construction is efficient in both physical resources and circuit depth, and can be demonstrated using ... [click to read more]

superconducting circuits and various other physical platforms. There are many applications of quantum channel construction, including system stabilization and quantum error correction, Markovian and exotic channel simulation, implementation of generalized quantum measurements and more general quantum instruments. Efficient construction of arbitrary quantum channels opens up exciting new possibilities for quantum control, quantum sensing and information processing tasks.

### Cavity State Manipulation Using Photon-Number Selective Phase Gates

*Reinier W. Heeres, Brian Vlastakis, Eric Holland, Stefan Krastanov, Victor V. Albert, Luigi Frunzio, Liang Jiang, Robert J. Schoelkopf*

**Phys. Rev. Lett. 115, 137002 (2015)**

## The large available Hilbert space and high coherence of cavity resonators makes these systems an interesting resource for storing encoded quantum bits. To perform a quantum gate on this encoded information, however, complex nonlinear operations must be applied to the many levels of the oscillator simultaneously. In this work, we ... [click to read more]

introduce the Selective Number-dependent Arbitrary Phase (SNAP) gate, which imparts a different phase to each Fock state component using an off-resonantly coupled qubit. We show that the SNAP gate allows control over the quantum phases by correcting the unwanted phase evolution due to the Kerr effect. Furthermore, by combining the SNAP gate with oscillator displacements, we create a one-photon Fock state with high fidelity. Using just these two controls, one can construct arbitrary unitary operations, offering a scalable route to performing logical manipulations on oscillator-encoded qubits.

### Holonomic quantum control with continuous variable systems

*Victor V. Albert, Chi Shu, Stefan Krastanov, Chao Shen, Ren-Bao Liu, Zhen-Biao Yang, Robert J. Schoelkopf, Mazyar Mirrahimi, Michel H. Devoret, Liang Jiang*

**Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 140502 (2016)**

## Universal computation of a quantum system consisting of superpositions of well-separated coherent states of multiple harmonic oscillators can be achieved by three families of adiabatic holonomic gates. The first gate consists of moving a coherent state around a closed path in phase space, resulting in a relative Berry phase between ... [click to read more]

that state and the other states. The second gate consists of "colliding" two coherent states of the same oscillator, resulting in coherent population transfer between them. The third gate is an effective controlled-phase gate on coherent states of two different oscillators. Such gates should be realizable via reservoir engineering of systems which support tunable nonlinearities, such as trapped ions and circuit QED.

### Universal Control of an Oscillator with Dispersive Coupling to a Qubit

*Stefan Krastanov, Victor V. Albert, Chao Shen, Chang-Ling Zou, Reinier W. Heeres, Brian Vlastakis, Robert J. Schoelkopf, Liang Jiang*

**Phys. Rev. A 92, 040303(R) (2015)**

## We investigate quantum control of an oscillator mode off-resonantly coupled to an ancillary qubit. In the strong dispersive regime, we may drive the qubit conditioned on number states of the oscillator, which together with displacement operations can achieve universal control of the oscillator. Based on our proof of universal control, ... [click to read more]

we provide explicit constructions for arbitrary state preparation and arbitrary unitary operation of the oscillator. Moreover, we present an efficient procedure to prepare the number state $\left|n\right\rangle$ using only $O\left(\sqrt{n}\right)$ operations. We also compare our scheme with known quantum control protocols for coupled qubit-oscillator systems. This universal control scheme of the oscillator can readily be implemented using superconducting circuits.

### Apar-T: code, validation, and physical interpretation of particle-in-cell results

*Mickaël Melzani, Christophe Winisdoerffer, Rolf Walder, Doris Folini, Jean M. Favre, Stefan Krastanov, Peter Messmer*

## We present the parallel particle-in-cell (PIC) code Apar-T and, more importantly, address the fundamental question of the relations between the PIC model, the Vlasov-Maxwell theory, and real plasmas. First, we present four validation tests: spectra from simulations of thermal plasmas, linear growth rates of the relativistic tearing instability and ... [click to read more]

of the filamentation instability, and non-linear filamentation merging phase. For the filamentation instability we show that the effective growth rates measured on the total energy can differ by more than 50% from the linear cold predictions and from the fastest modes of the simulation. Second, we detail a new method for initial loading of Maxwell-J\"uttner particle distributions with relativistic bulk velocity and relativistic temperature, and explain why the traditional method with individual particle boosting fails. Third, we scrutinize the question of what description of physical plasmas is obtained by PIC models. These models rely on two building blocks: coarse-graining, i.e., grouping of the order of p~10^10 real particles into a single computer superparticle, and field storage on a grid with its subsequent finite superparticle size. We introduce the notion of coarse-graining dependent quantities, i.e., quantities depending on p. They derive from the PIC plasma parameter Lambda^{PIC}, which we show to scale as 1/p. We explore two implications. One is that PIC collision- and fluctuation-induced thermalization times are expected to scale with the number of superparticles per grid cell, and thus to be a factor p~10^10 smaller than in real plasmas. The other is that the level of electric field fluctuations scales as 1/Lambda^{PIC} ~ p. We provide a corresponding exact expression. Fourth, we compare the Vlasov-Maxwell theory, which describes a phase-space fluid with infinite Lambda, to the PIC model and its relatively small Lambda.