The von Neumann entropy of a quantum state is a central concept in physics and information theory, having a number of compelling physical interpretations. There is a certain perspective that the most fundamental notion in quantum mechanics is that of a quantum channel, as quantum states, unitary evolutions, measurements, and discarding of quantum systems can each be regarded as certain kinds of quantum channels. Thus, an important goal is to define a consistent and meaningful notion of the entropy of a quantum channel. Motivated by the fact that the entropy of a state ρ can be formulated as the difference of the number of physical qubits and the "relative entropy distance"between ρ and the maximally mixed state, here we define the entropy of a channel N as the difference of the number of physical qubits of the channel output with the "relative entropy distance"between N and the completely depolarizing channel. We prove that this definition satisfies all of the axioms, recently put forward by Gour [IEEE Trans. Inf. Theory 65, 5880 (2019)IETTAW0018-944810.1109/TIT.2019.2907989], required for a channel entropy function. The task of quantum channel merging, in which the goal is for the receiver to merge his share of the channel with the environment's share, gives a compelling operational interpretation of the entropy of a channel. The entropy of a channel can be negative for certain channels, but this negativity has an operational interpretation in terms of the channel merging protocol. We define Rényi and min-entropies of a channel and prove that they satisfy the axioms required for a channel entropy function. Among other results, we also prove that a smoothed version of the min-entropy of a channel satisfies the asymptotic equipartition property.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Physical Review Research
Gour, G., & Wilde, M. (2021). Entropy of a quantum channel. Physical Review Research, 3 (2) https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevResearch.3.023096