Variational Tensor Network Operator
We propose a simple and generic construction of the variational tensor network operators to study the quantum spin systems by the synergy of ideas from the imaginary-time evolution and variational optimization of trial wave functions. By applying these operators to simple initial states, accurate variational ground state wave functions with extremely few parameters can be obtained. Furthermore, the framework can be applied to study spontaneously symmetry breaking, symmetry protected topological, and intrinsic topologically ordered phases, and we show that symmetries of the local tensors associated with these phases can emerge directly after the optimization without any gauge fixing. This provides a universal way to identify quantum phase transitions without prior knowledge of the system.