Distinguishability of countable quantum states and von Neumann lattice

Ryûitirô Kawakubo, Tatsuhiko Koike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The condition for distinguishability of a countably infinite number of pure states by a single measurement is given. Distinguishability is to be understood as the possibility of an unambiguous measurement. For a finite number of states, it is known that the necessary and sufficient condition of distinguishability is that the states are linearly independent. For an infinite number of states, several natural classes of distinguishability can be defined. We give a necessary and sufficient condition for a system of pure states to be distinguishable. It turns out that each level of distinguishability naturally corresponds to one of the generalizations of linear independence to families of infinite vectors. As an important example, we apply the general theory to von Neumann's lattice, a subsystem of coherent states which corresponds to a lattice in the classical phase space. We prove that the condition for distinguishability is that the area of the fundamental region of the lattice is greater than the Planck constant, and also find subtle behavior on the threshold. These facts reveal the measurement theoretical meaning of the Planck constant and give a justification for the interpretation that it is the smallest unit of area in the phase space. The cases of uncountably many states and of mixed states are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number265201
JournalJournal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 2016 May 19


  • Riesz-Fischer sequence
  • foundations of quantum mechanics
  • measurement theory
  • quantum information
  • unambiguous measurement
  • von Neumann lattice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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