Work on catalytic randomness goes to press in PRX
Work on catalytic quantum randomness goes to press in the Physical Review X. Randomness is a defining element of mixing processes in nature and an essential ingredient to many protocols in quantum information. Specifically, we ask whether there is a gap between the power of a classical source of randomness compared to that of a quantum one. We provide a complete answer to these questions, by identifying provably optimal protocols for both classical and quantum sources of randomness, based on a dephasing construction. We find that in order to implement any noisy transition on a d-dimensional quantum system it is necessary and sufficient to have a quantum source of randomness of dimension d^1/2 or a classical one of dimension d. Interestingly, coherences provided by quantum states in a source of randomness offer a quadratic advantage. The process we construct has the additional features to be robust and catalytic, i.e., the source of randomness can be re-used. Building upon this formal framework, we illustrate that this dephasing construction can serve as a useful primitive in both equilibration and quantum information theory: We discuss applications describing the smallest measurement device, capturing the smallest equilibrating environment allowed by quantum mechanics, or forming the basis for a cryptographic private quantum channel. We complement the exact analysis with a discussion of approximate protocols based on quantum expanders deriving from discrete Weyl systems. This gives rise to equilibrating environments of remarkably small dimension. Our results highlight the curious feature of randomness that residual correlations and dimension can be traded against each other.
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