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Beyond density matrices: Geometric quantum states


In quantum mechanics, states are described by density matrices. Though their probabilistic interpretation is rooted in ensemble theory, density matrices embody a known shortcoming. They do not completely express the physical realization of an ensemble. Conveniently, the outcome statistics of projective and positive operator-valued measurements do not depend on the ensemble realization, only on the density matrix. Here, we show how the geometric approach to quantum mechanics tracks ensemble realizations. We do so in two concrete cases of a finite-dimensional quantum system interacting with another one with (i) finite-dimensional Hilbert space, relevant for quantum thermodynamics, and (ii) infinite-dimensional Hilbert space, relevant for state-manipulation protocols.

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