Quantum majorization and a complete set of entropic conditions for quantum thermodynamics

Nat Commun. 2018 Dec 17;9(1):5352. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06261-7.


What does it mean for one quantum process to be more disordered than another? Interestingly, this apparently abstract question arises naturally in a wide range of areas such as information theory, thermodynamics, quantum reference frames, and the resource theory of asymmetry. Here we use a quantum-mechanical generalization of majorization to develop a framework for answering this question, in terms of single-shot entropies, or equivalently, in terms of semi-definite programs. We also investigate some of the applications of this framework, and remarkably find that, in the context of quantum thermodynamics it provides the first complete set of necessary and sufficient conditions for arbitrary quantum state transformations under thermodynamic processes, which rigorously accounts for quantum-mechanical properties, such as coherence. Our framework of generalized thermal processes extends thermal operations, and is based on natural physical principles, namely, energy conservation, the existence of equilibrium states, and the requirement that quantum coherence be accounted for thermodynamically.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't