Positive P representation: Application and validity

A. Gilchrist*, C. W. Gardiner, P. D. Drummond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


The positive P representation is a very successful tool in quantum optics. However, the usual assumption of negligible boundary terms in the time-evolution equations is not always valid. We explore the range of validity of the time-evolution equations both analytically and by numerical investigation of a number of specific examples. We present practical ways of verifying the validity of the use of the positive P representation and find that the standard time-evolution equation can become invalid when nonlinear terms (at unit photon number) are large relative to the damping rate. This is very much larger than is normally the case in nonlinear optics, except possibly near resonances. We are able to show that when the positive P representation is invalid, the boundary terms, normally neglected in an integration by parts, become non-negligible. When numerical simulations are carried out using the positive P representation, specific checks given in this paper should be carried out to verify the compactness of the distribution. In conclusion, we find that (apart from special cases) this technique of quantum time evolution is typically asymptotically valid in the limit of small nonlinearity, rather than exact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3014-3032
Number of pages19
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1997
Externally publishedYes


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