Physics Colloquium - Quantum Information in Space and Time

Event Date: 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Broida 1640

Event Contact: 


Patrick Hayden, Quantum Information, Stanford University


What can quantum information theory teach us about spacetime? When it comes to black hole evaporation, quantum cloning and UCSB’s notorious firewalls, the theory teaches us something we should have already known: that we’re confused. But the information theoretic viewpoint can also provide unexpected illumination. This talk will describe two examples of how quantum information theory can reveal unexpected and beautiful structure in spacetime.

The first example will address a basic question: where and when can a qubit be? While the no-cloning theorem of quantum mechanics prevents quantum information from being copied in space, the reversibility of microscopic physics actually requires that the information be copied in time. In spacetime as a whole, therefore, quantum information is widely replicated but in a restricted fashion. There is a simple and complete description of where and when a qubit can be located in spacetime, revealing a remarkable variety of possibilities.

The second example comes from holography. The AdS/CFT correspondence provides a concrete realization of the holographic principle, in which the physics of a “bulk” spacetime volume is completely encoded onto its boundary surface. A dictionary relates the physics of the boundary to the physics of the bulk, but the boundary interpretation of the bulk’s extra dimension has always been a bit fuzzy. I’ll explain one precise interpretation of that extra dimension as the amount of entanglement required to perform a specific boundary communications task.