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Inequivalence of pure state ensembles for open quantum systems: the preferred ensembles are those that are physically realizable

Wiseman, H.M.; Vaccaro, J.A.

Physical Review Letters 87(24): 240402

2001

An open quantum system in steady state rho(ss) can be represented by a weighted ensemble of pure states rho(ss) = [equation: see text] in infinitely many ways. A physically realizable (PR) ensemble is one for which some continuous measurement of the environment will collapse the system into a pure state /psi(t)>, stochastically evolving such that the proportion of time for which /psi(t)> = /psi(k)> equals Weierstrass p(k). Some, but not all, ensembles are PR. This constitutes the preferred ensemble fact. We present the necessary and sufficient conditions for a given ensemble to be PR, and illustrate the method by showing that the coherent state ensemble is not PR for an atom laser.

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