The bosonic birthday paradox
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The bosonic birthday paradox

  • Author(s): Arkhipov, Alex
  • Kuperberg, Greg
  • et al.

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We motivate and prove a version of the birthday paradox for $k$ identical bosons in $n$ possible modes. If the bosons are in the uniform mixed state, also called the maximally mixed quantum state, then we need $k \sim \sqrt{n}$ bosons to expect two in the same state, which is smaller by a factor of $\sqrt{2}$ than in the case of distinguishable objects (boltzmannons). While the core result is elementary, we generalize the hypothesis and strengthen the conclusion in several ways. One side result is that boltzmannons with a randomly chosen multinomial distribution have the same birthday statistics as bosons. This last result is interesting as a quantum proof of a classical probability theorem; we also give a classical proof.

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