Periodica Mathematica Hungarica

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 223–237 | Cite as

Relative entropy between quantum ensembles

  • Shunlong LuoEmail author
  • Nan Li
  • Xuelian Cao


Relative entropy between two quantum states, which quantifies to what extent the quantum states can be distinguished via whatever methods allowed by quantum mechanics, is a central and fundamental quantity in quantum information theory. However, in both theoretical analysis (such as selective measurements) and practical situations (such as random experiments), one is often encountered with quantum ensembles, which are families of quantum states with certain prior probability distributions. How can we quantify the quantumness and distinguishability of quantum ensembles? In this paper, by use of a probabilistic coupling technique, we propose a notion of relative entropy between quantum ensembles, which is a natural generalization of the relative entropy between quantum states. This generalization enjoys most of the basic and important properties of the original relative entropy. As an application, we use the notion of relative entropy between quantum ensembles to define a measure for quantumness of quantum ensembles. This quantity may be useful in quantum cryptography since in certain circumstances it is desirable to encode messages in quantum ensembles which are the most quantum, thus the most sensitive to eavesdropping. By use of this measure of quantumness, we demonstrate that a set consisting of two pure states is the most quantum when the states are 45° apart.

Key words and phrases

quantum relative entropy quantum ensembles von Neumann measurements coupling quantumness 

Mathematics subject classification numbers

62B10 81P15 94A17 


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Academy of Mathematics and Systems ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Mathematics and StatisticsHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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