Pirsa: 16050029 - Symplectic covariant quantum Brownian motion: the harmonic oscillator of open systems


Jess Riedel

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In the study of closed quantum system, the simple harmonic oscillator is ubiquitous because all smooth potentials look quadratic locally, and exhaustively understanding it is very valuable because it is exactly solvable. Although not widely appreciated, Markovian quantum Brownian motion (QBM) plays almost exactly the same role in the study of open quantum systems. QBM is ubiquitous because it arises from only the Markov assumption and linear Lindblad operators, and it likewise has an elegant and transparent exact solution. QBM is often introduced with specific non-Markovian models like Caldeira-Leggett, but this makes it very difficult to see which phenomena are universal and which are idiosyncratic to the model. Like frictionless classical mechanics or nonrenormalizable field theories, the exact Markov property is aphysical, but handling this subtlety is a small price to pay for the extreme generality. The widest class of QBM dynamics is symplectic invariant and includes Einstein-Smoluchowski diffusion, damped harmonic oscillations, and pure spatial decoherence as special cases, whose close relationship is often obscured.

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