A multiple access channel describes a situation in which multiple senders are trying to forward messages to a single receiver using some physical medium. In this paper we consider scenarios in which this medium consists of just a single classical or quantum particle. In the quantum case, the particle can be prepared in a superposition state thereby allowing for a richer family of encoding strategies. To make the comparison between quantum and classical channels precise, we introduce an operational framework in which all possible encoding strategies consume no more than a single particle. We apply this framework to an Nport interferometer experiment in which each party controls a path the particle can traverse. When used for the purpose of communication, this setup embodies a multiple access channel (MAC) built with a single particle. We provide a full characterization of the Nparty classical MACs that can be built from a single particle, and we show that every quantum particle can generate a MAC outside the classical set. To further distinguish the capabilities of a single classical and quantum particle, we relax the locality constraint and allow for joint encodings by subsets of 1 < K ≤ N parties. This generates a richer family of classical MACs whose polytope dimension we compute. We identify a "generalized fingerprinting inequality" as a valid facet for this polytope, and we verify that a quantum particle distributed among N separated parties can violate this inequality even when K = N-1. Connections are drawn between the single-particle framework and multi-level coherence theory. We show that every pure state with K-level coherence can be detected in a semi-device independent manner, with the only assumption being conservation of particle number.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)