Quantum information and relativity theory

Asher Peres*, Daniel R. Terno

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

404 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses the intimate relationship between quantum mechanics, information theory, and relativity theory. Taken together these are the foundations of present-day theoretical physics, and their interrelationship is an essential part of the theory. The acquisition of information from a quantum system by an observer occurs at the interface of classical and quantum physics. The authors review the essential tools needed to describe this interface, i.e., Kraus matrices and positive-operator-valued measures. They then discuss how special relativity imposes severe restrictions on the transfer of information between distant systems and the implications of the fact that quantum entropy is not a Lorentz-covariant concept. This leads to a discussion of how it comes about that Lorentz transformations of reduced density matrices for entangled systems may not be completely positive maps. Quantum field theory is, of course, necessary for a consistent description of interactions. Its structure implies a fundamental tradeoff between detector reliability and localizability. Moreover, general relativity produces new and counterintuitive effects, particularly when black holes (or, more generally, event horizons) are involved. In this more general context the authors discuss how most of the current concepts in quantum information theory may require a reassessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-123
Number of pages31
JournalReviews of Modern Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


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