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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Entanglement of Mixed Quantum State

As per Wikipedia: Quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot ...
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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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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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How to connect these two formulations regarding the need for a density matrix in quantum mechanics?

I found these two formulations: The density matrix is: 1) "needed if we consider a system that is part of a larger closed system." 2) "needed for a system to be ...
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What is the physical meaning of the Lindblad operator?

I read the wikipedia article on the Lindblad operator, but I still don't understand what this operator is supposed to describe. I therefore considered setting up an example in order to get the idea. ...
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Is it possible to go from the Master Equation formalism to Heisenberg-Langevin equations

If I have derived a master equation (e.g. in the Lindblad form) and solved for the density matrix, $\rho(t)$ I can get the mean value of an operator, A as: $ <A> = \mathrm{Tr}A\rho $. But ...
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How to write a generic density matrix for multi qubit system

I was reading the paper device independent outlook on quantum mechanics. The author defines a generic two qubit density matrix as $$ \rho=\frac{1}{4}\left( I \otimes I + \vec{r_{\rho}} \cdot ...
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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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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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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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What is the difference between general measurement and projective measurement?

Nielsen and Chuang mention in Quantum Computation and Information that there are two kinds of measurement : general and projective ( and also POVM but that's not what I'm worried about ). General ...
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Can reduced density matrices of sub systems of an entangled composite system be different?

In a 4-dimensional hilbert space, only 4 entangled states( normalized ) are possible ( if I am not wrong ), the bell basis. In each of the state in bell basis the reduced density matrix is ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...