DOI: 10.3390/e25091254 ISSN:

Simultaneous Measurements of Noncommuting Observables: Positive Transformations and Instrumental Lie Groups

Christopher S. Jackson, Carlton M. Caves
  • General Physics and Astronomy

We formulate a general program for describing and analyzing continuous, differential weak, simultaneous measurements of noncommuting observables, which focuses on describing the measuring instrument autonomously, without states. The Kraus operators of such measuring processes are time-ordered products of fundamental differential positive transformations, which generate nonunitary transformation groups that we call instrumental Lie groups. The temporal evolution of the instrument is equivalent to the diffusion of a Kraus-operator distribution function, defined relative to the invariant measure of the instrumental Lie group. This diffusion can be analyzed using Wiener path integration, stochastic differential equations, or a Fokker-Planck-Kolmogorov equation. This way of considering instrument evolution we call the Instrument Manifold Program. We relate the Instrument Manifold Program to state-based stochastic master equations. We then explain how the Instrument Manifold Program can be used to describe instrument evolution in terms of a universal cover that we call the universal instrumental Lie group, which is independent not just of states, but also of Hilbert space. The universal instrument is generically infinite dimensional, in which case the instrument’s evolution is chaotic. Special simultaneous measurements have a finite-dimensional universal instrument, in which case the instrument is considered principal, and it can be analyzed within the differential geometry of the universal instrumental Lie group. Principal instruments belong at the foundation of quantum mechanics. We consider the three most fundamental examples: measurement of a single observable, position and momentum, and the three components of angular momentum. As these measurements are performed continuously, they converge to strong simultaneous measurements. For a single observable, this results in the standard decay of coherence between inequivalent irreducible representations. For the latter two cases, it leads to a collapse within each irreducible representation onto the classical or spherical phase space, with the phase space located at the boundary of these instrumental Lie groups.

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