On the hitting times of quantum versus random walks
The hitting time of a classical random walk (Markov chain) is the time required to detect the presence of -- or equivalently, to find -- a marked state. The hitting time of a quantum walk is subtler to define; in particular, it is unknown whether the detection and finding problems have the same time complexity. In this paper we define new Monte Carlo type classical and quantum hitting times, and we prove several relationships among these and the already existing Las Vegas type definitions. In particular, we show that for some marked state the two types of hitting time are of the same order in both the classical and the quantum case. Further, we prove that for any reversible ergodic Markov chain P, the quantum hitting time of the quantum analogue of P has the same order as the square root of the classical hitting time of P. We also investigate the (im)possibility of achieving a gap greater than quadratic using an alternative quantum walk. In doing so, we define a notion of reversibility for a broad class of quantum walks and show how to derive from any such quantum walk a classical analogue. For the special case of quantum walks built on reflections, we show that the hitting time of the classical analogue is exactly the square of the quantum walk. Finally, we present new quantum algorithms for the detection and finding problems. The complexities of both algorithms are related to the new, potentially smaller, quantum hitting times. The detection algorithm is based on phase estimation and is particularly simple. The finding algorithm combines a similar phase estimation based procedure with ideas of Tulsi from his recent theorem  for the 2D grid. Extending his result, we show that for any state-transitive Markov chain with unique marked state, the quantum hitting time is of the same order for both the detection and finding problems.