Asymptotic measurement schemes for every observable of a quantum field theory

Christopher J. Fewster, Ian Jubb, Maximilian H. Ruep
March 17, 2022
In quantum measurement theory, a measurement scheme describes how an observable of a given system can be measured indirectly using a probe. The measurement scheme involves the specification of a probe theory, an initial probe state, a probe observable and a coupling between the system and the probe, so that a measurement of the probe observable after the coupling has ceased reproduces (in expectation) the result of measuring the system observable in the system state. Recent work has shown how local and causal measurement schemes may be described in the context of model-independent quantum field theory (QFT), but has not addressed the question of whether such measurement schemes exist for all system observables. Here, we present two treatments of this question. The first is a proof of principle which provides a measurement scheme for every local observable of the quantized real linear scalar field if one relaxes one of the conditions on a QFT measurement scheme by allowing a non-compact coupling region. Secondly, restricting to compact coupling regions, we explicitly construct asymptotic measurement schemes for every local observable of the quantized theory. More precisely, we show that for every local system observable $A$ there is an associated collection of measurement schemes for system observables that converge to $A$. The convergence holds in particular in GNS representations of suitable states on the field algebra as well as the Weyl algebra. In this way, we show that every observable can be asymptotically measured using locally coupled probe theories.