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PERIMETER INSTITUTE RECORDED SEMINAR ARCHIVE

The power of forgetting
Speaker(s): Patrick Hayden
Abstract: Thermodynamics places surprisingly few fundamental constraints on information processing. In fact, most people would argue that it imposes only one, known as Landauer's Principle: a process erasing one bit of information must release an amount kT ln 2 of heat. It is this simple observation that finally led to the exorcism of Maxwell's Demon from statistical mechanics, more than a century after he first appeared. Ignoring the lesson implicit in this early advance, however, quantum information theorists have been surprisingly slow to embrace erasure as a fundamental primitive. Over the past couple of years, however, it has become clear that a detailed understanding of how difficult it is to erase correlations leads to a nearly complete synthesis and simplification of the known results of asymptotic quantum information theory. As it turns out, surprisingly many of the tasks of interest, from distilling high-quality entanglement to sending quantum data through a noisy medium to many receivers, can be understood as variants of erasure. I'll sketch the main ideas behind these discoveries and end with some speculations on what lessons the new picture might have for understanding information loss in real physical systems.
Date: 26/03/2007 - 11:00 am
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