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Sunday, 11 May 2014

Proving uncertainty: First rigorous formulation supporting Heisenberg's famous 1927 principle

Proving uncertainty: New insight into old problem

Nearly 90 years after Werner Heisenberg pioneered his uncertainty principle, a group of researchers from three countries has provided substantial new insight into this fundamental tenet of quantum physics with the first rigorous formulation supporting the uncertainty principle as Heisenberg envisioned it.

In the Journal of Mathematical Physics, the researchers reports a new way of defining measurement errors that is applicable in the quantum domain and enables a precise characterization of the fundamental limits of the information accessible in quantum experiments.

"Our method of defining the error and disturbance in quantum measurements enabled us to prove an error-disturbance trade-off relation just the way Heisenberg envisaged it," said Paul Busch, Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of York, who collaborated with Pekka Lahti of the University of Turku in Finland and Reinhard F. Werner of Leibniz Universit├Ąt in Hannover, Germany on the work.
This work is particularly timely and significant since some recent research calls the Heisenberg principle into question. The quantum mechanical inequality proposed by M. Ozawa in Japan, if its interpretation were correct, would suggest that  might be less stringent than had been thought for the last 80 or so years.

The results of this research—a proof of a variety of formulations of measurement error (and disturbance) relations—highlights the fundamental limits of measurements in . Since modern technology has been progressing steadily to controlling smaller and smaller objects (e.g., nanotechnology, quantum computation, quantum cryptography), the time is approaching where device performance may confront the ultimate quantum limits. These results may, for example, corroborate the security of quantum cryptographic protocols insofar as these are based on the validity of the  and the Heisenberg effect.

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