The density operator describes a quantum system in an (in general mixed) state.

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Is the density operator a mathematical convenience or a 'fundamental' aspect of quantum mechanics?

In quantum mechanics, one makes the distinction between mixed states and pure states. A classic example of a mixed state is a beam of photons in which 50% have spin in the positive $z$-direction and ...
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Density matrix formalism

The density matrix $\hat{\rho}$ is often introduced in textbooks as a mathematical convenience that allows us to describe quantum systems in which there is some level of missing information. ...
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What is the entropy of a pure state?

Well, zero of course. Because $S = -\text{tr}(\rho \ln \rho)$ and $\rho$ for a pure state gives zero entropy. But... all quantum states are really pure states right? A mixed state just describes ...
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What does the sum of two qubits tell about their correlations?

How much can I learn about correlations between two quits by measuring the sum of their values? What is the best way to formalize such a question? Below is my original, longer formulation of ...
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Majorana-like representation for mixed symmetric states?

Is there a generalization of the Majorana representation of pure symmetric $n$-qubit states to mixed states (made of pure symmetric $n$-qubit)? By Majorana representation I mean the decomposition of ...
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How is quantum superposition different from mixed state?

According to Wikipedia, if a system has $50\%$ chance to be in state $\left|\psi_1\right>$ and $50\%$ to be in state $\left|\psi_2\right>$, then this is a mixed state. Now consider state ...
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Hilbert-Schmidt basis for many qubits - reference

Every density matrix of $n$ qubits can be written in the following way $$\hat{\rho}=\frac{1}{2^n}\sum_{i_1,i_2,\ldots,i_n=0}^3 t_{i_1i_2\ldots i_n} ...
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Reduced density matrices for free fermions are thermal

Many recent papers study entanglement in eigenstates of fermionic free hamiltonians (normally on a lattice) using the basic assumption that the reduced density matrices are thermal (e.g. Peschel ...
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Shape of the state space under different tensor products

I am currently studying generalized probabilistic theories. Let me roughly recall how such a theory looks like (you can skip this and go to "My question" if you are familiar with this). Recall: In a ...
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Precise meaning of composition of ket and bra, e.g. $|\psi\rangle\langle\psi|$

I'm currently studying density matrices, and have been frequently coming across the construction $$|\psi\rangle\langle\psi| \,.$$ What is the formal meaning of this composition? I understand ...
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What is the actual meaning of the density operator?

I am not able to understand the definition of the density operator. I know that if $V$ is a vector space and if I have $k$ states belonging to this vector space, say $|\psi_{i}\rangle$ for $1\le i\le ...
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Interpretation of a density matrix as an observable

In quantum mechanics, any density matrix (or density operator) is Hermitian. Observables are also represented by Hermitian operators. So it follows that a density matrix can also be interpreted as ...
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How does a state vector be projected onto an eigenspace after measurement

In http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measurement_in_quantum_mechanics#Degenerate_spectra, it is said that If there are multiple eigenstates with the same eigenvalue (called degeneracies),..., The ...
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Takhatajan's mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics

So I began skimming L. Takhatajan's Quantum Mechanics For Mathematicians, and saw the mathematical formulation of QM that he uses (page 51). (The PDF file is available here.) I've only taken a basic ...
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Hilbert space for Density Operators (instead of Banach spaces)

Is it possible to construct a well defined inner-product (and therefore orthonormality) within the set of self-adjoint trace-class linear operators? In the affirmative case, dynamics could be analyzed ...
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Differences between pure/mixed/entangled/separable/superposed states

I am currently trying to establish a clear picture of pure/mixed/entangled/separable/superposed states. In the following I will always assume a basis of $|1\rangle$ and $|0\rangle$ for my quantum ...
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States versus ensembles in quantum mechanics

In quantum mechanics, we talk about (1) vectors, (2) states, and (3) ensembles (e.g., a beam in a particle accelerator). Suppose we want to translate this into mathematical definitions. If I'd never ...
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Equivalence classes in a Hilbert space

I'm reading something about quantum information/quantum computing theory, and I've run into a wall. I know what is meant by an equivalence class and how something can be partitioned into equivalence ...
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How can I write a Gaussian state as a squeezed, displaced thermal state

I would like to write a Gaussian state with density matrix $\rho$ (single mode) as a squeezed, displaced thermal state: \begin{gather} \rho = \hat{S}(\zeta) \hat{D}(\alpha) \rho_{\bar{n}} ...
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Eigenvalue Postulate and Experiment Outcomes in QM

In Nielsen and Chuang's text on Quantum Information and Computation, the measurement postulate is stated by using a collection of measurement operators and the outcomes are the indices of the ...
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Liouville-von Neumann equation can be directly derived from Heisenberg picture?

The Liouville-von Neumann equation for the density matrix is: $$ i\hbar\frac{\partial\rho}{\partial t}=[H,\rho],$$ while in the Heisenberg picture: $$ \frac{d}{dt}A(t)=\frac{i}{\hbar}[H,A(t)] ...
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Trace of an operator matrix (Quantum computation and quantum information)

I'm reading the book Quantum computation and quantum information by Mike & Ike and I'm stuck at 2.60/2.61. There, the author says that, given the operator $A|ψ⟩⟨ψ|$, its trace is: $${\rm ...
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Matrix elements of linear operators - orthonormal basis required?

In an early linear algebra class of mine, I learnt that a linear map $\mathcal{A}$ acting on a vector space could be represented by a matrix $A_{ij}$ according to the rule: $$\mathcal{A}({e_j}) = ...
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Sum of two density matrices: $\rho=p_1\rho_1+p_2\rho_2$

Suppose we have $$\rho=p_1\rho_1+p_2\rho_2$$ Where $\rho_1$ and $\rho_2$ are density matrices with $p_1+p_2=1$ I'm trying to show this is also a density matrix If we let $$\rho_1=\sum_i^n ...
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Is it possible to write a Density Matrix in the following form?

Is it possible to write an arbitrary density matrix $\hat{\rho}$ in the following form ? $$\hat{\rho} ~=~ \frac{1}{N} \sum_{\ell=1}^N \left|x_{\ell}\right\rangle \left\langle x_{\ell}\right|,$$ ...
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Why is this not a realisable operation on a quantum system?

Let $\rho = \begin{bmatrix}\ 1&0 \\ 0&0 \end{bmatrix}$, $\rho' = \begin{bmatrix}\ 0&0 \\ 0&1 \end{bmatrix}$, $\rho'' = \dfrac{1}{2}\begin{bmatrix}\ 1&1 \\ 1&1 \end{bmatrix}$ ...
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The effect of Quantum Decoherence on density operators

Suppose we have a qubit in state $| \Psi \rangle = \alpha | 0 \rangle + \beta | 1 \rangle$ Suppose we expose this to decoherence, which we will express as the state $| R \rangle$ such that $$| 0 ...
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What is the physical interpretation of the density matrix in a double continuous basis $|\alpha\rangle$, $|\beta\rangle$?

(a) Any textbook gives the interpretation of the density matrix in a single continuous basis $|\alpha\rangle$: The diagonal elements $\rho(\alpha, \alpha) = \langle \alpha |\hat{\rho}| \alpha ...
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Proving the unitary relation of ensemble decompositions

In my class it was told that ensemble decompositions of a density operator $\rho$ are not unique, but that the ones that exist are related by a unitary operator. I'm trying to prove this, but I get ...
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How does one diagonalize a density operator that has exponential elements?

What is the diagonal form of the density operator $\hat\rho$, of which I know that $$\langle x\left|\hat\rho\right|x'\rangle\propto \exp\left[{-\frac{\gamma}{2}(x^2+x'^2)+\beta xx'}\right]$$where ...
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Linearity of the time evolution operator for the reduced density matrix of an entangled state

Suppose to have a system $S$ immersed in an enviroment; the pure states are elements of $H_S \otimes H_E$, where $H_S$ is the hilbert space of the system and $H_E$ is the hilbert space of the ...
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Solution of dynamics of density matrix

Given the dynamics of the density matrix: $ \frac{d}{d t}\begin{pmatrix} \rho_{00} & \rho_{01} \\ \rho_{10} & \rho_{11} \end{pmatrix} = \begin{pmatrix} \lambda ...
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Trace as integral

Consider a system of two entangled harmonic oscillators. The normalised ground state is denoted by $\psi_0(x_1,x_2)$. I've been taught that a density matrix is constructed as $\rho = ...
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Why is the frequency bandwidth of the environment important for Markovianity?

In the derivation of Spontaneous Emission in two level systems in Quantum Optics (be it Wigner Weisskopf or a different approach, such as density operators to find the master equation), one makes ...
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Mutually unbiased bases

This question can be formulated in two ways. Let there be two $d$-dimensional orthonormal bases $B_{1}$ and $B_{2}$. I refer to the elements of $B_{1}$ by $\lvert\nu_{i}\rangle$ and to the elements of ...
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Schrödinger's cat and the difficulty of macroscopic superposition state

The Schrödinger's cat was regarded as peculiar since we seldom encounter a superposition state in macroscopic scale: $$ | \mathrm{dead \,\,cat} \rangle + | \mathrm{alive \,\, cat}\rangle $$ We more ...
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Fermi-Dirac distribution derivation?

I am trying to derive the Fermi-Dirac statistics using density matrix formalism. I know that $$<A>= Tr \rho A.$$ So I started from $$<n(\epsilon_i)>= Tr \rho n(\epsilon_i)=\frac {1}{Z} ...
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Intuition on positive-operator valued measures (POVM)

I'm having a little trouble understanding what positive-operator valued measure (POVM) are- in particular why/how they are non-negative. For instance, if they just represent measurements, what about ...
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What is the Reduced Density Matrix?

The difference between pure and mixed states is the difference in their density matrix structure. For density matrix $\rho$ of mixed state the trace of $\rho^{2}$ should be less than 1. For pure ...
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Density Operator, Expectation Value, Coherent States

How would I go about evaluating expectation values like $\langle X \rangle$ and $\langle P \rangle$? Work I've done: I've done the integration over $\phi$ and rewrote $\rho$ as: $\rho = ...
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What does density operator being same for two sytems tells us?

Yesterday I asked a question. I got it that if a density operator is given as $$\rho=\sum_{i=1}^{i=k}p_i|\psi_i\rangle \langle\psi_i| \tag{1}$$ then it means that the system is one of the states ...
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Does the reduced density matrix describes a real mixed state?

Suppose that we have two entangled particles A and B with pure state vector $|\psi\rangle=a|0\rangle_A |1\rangle_B + b|1\rangle_A |0\rangle_B \hspace{1cm}(1)$ When we take the partial trace over the ...
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Finding the matrix representation of a superoperator

I am trying to express superoperator (e.g. the Liouvillian) as matrices and am having a hard time finding a way to do this. For instance, given the Pauli matrix $\sigma_y$, how do I find the matrix ...
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Expression of density operator

States in Quantum Mechanics can be thought of as density operators, i.e., positive semi-definite, normalized trace class operators on a Hilbert Space $\mathcal{H}$. In the case ...
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Derivation of a quantum dynamical map on open quantum system

Let us consider a initial total quantum system as $\rho(0) = \rho_S(0)\otimes\rho_B$ where $\rho_S(0)$ is initial open system and $\rho_B$ is density matrix for environment. We can use partial trace ...
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Eigenstates of a density matrix of continuous variables

Consider a system of two entangled harmonic oscillators. The normalised ground state is denoted by $\psi_0(x_1,x_2)$. The reduced density matrix of the second oscillator is given by: $$\rho_2 = ...
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Energy density of a quantum mechanical ensemble

How do we determine the energy density of a given system? I have seen that the density operator $$\rho~=~\frac{\exp(-\beta \hat{H})}{\text{tr}(\exp(-\beta \hat{H}))}.$$ What does this mean exactly ...
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Different kinds of trace for statistical ensembles

In the chapter 7 of the book "A Modern Course in Statiscal Physics" by L. Reichl, we found $Tr[\hat{\rho}]=1$ for microcanonical ensembles and $Tr_N[\hat{\rho}]=1$ for canonical and grandcanonical ...
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Can I usefully interpret a non-unital completely positive (CP) map as a cooling process?

Non-unital completely positive (CP) maps take a maximally mixed quantum state (aka a normalized identity matrix aka an infinite temperature state) and map it to something else. This necessarily ...
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State vector vs density operator

We formulate quantum mechanics using language of state vectors. One alternative formulation is possible using density operator or density matrix. Why we are doing this alternative approach? Is the ...