Proof of a Universal Speed Limit on Fast Scrambling in Quantum Systems

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Proof of a Universal Speed Limit on Fast Scrambling in Quantum Systems


Amit Vikram, Laura Shou, Victor Galitski


We prove that the time required for sustained information scrambling in any Hamiltonian quantum system is universally at least logarithmic in the entanglement entropy of scrambled states. This addresses two foundational problems in nonequilibrium quantum dynamics. (1) It sets the earliest possible time for the applicability of equilibrium statistical mechanics in a quantum system coupled to a bath at a finite temperature. (2) It proves a version of the fast scrambling conjecture, originally motivated in models associated with black holes, as a fundamental property of quantum mechanics itself. Our result builds on a refinement of the energy-time uncertainty principle in terms of the infinite temperature spectral form factor in quantum chaos. We generalize this formulation to arbitrary initial states of the bath, including finite temperature states, by mapping Hamiltonian dynamics with any initial state to nonunitary dynamics at infinite temperature. A regularized spectral form factor emerges naturally from this procedure, whose decay is universally constrained by analyticity in complex time. This establishes an exact speed limit on information scrambling by the most general quantum mechanical Hamiltonian, without any restrictions on locality or the nature of interactions.

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1 comment


nice result,  going to have to ponder this for a bit

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