The master equation (Lindblad equation) describes the evolution of the density matrix of a system. Since it is a density matrix, so inherently, it describes an ensemble instead of a single system?

In many quantum optics experiment, there is only one system on the table. So how does the experimental results link to the Lindblad equation?

  • $\begingroup$ One could argue that the Schrodinger equation also applies only to an ensemble of systems. $\endgroup$ – march Aug 27 '15 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ I do not think so. It is a pure state. $\endgroup$ – kaiser Aug 28 '15 at 7:12
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    $\begingroup$ In order to actually measure expectation values in such experiments one needs to perform many repeated measurements on independent, identically prepared systems undergoing the same evolution. This collection of systems is the ensemble described by your density matrix. $\endgroup$ – Mark Mitchison Sep 8 '15 at 17:59

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