Incompatibility as a Resource for Programmable Quantum Instruments

Kaiyuan Ji, Eric Chitambar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Quantum instruments represent the most general type of quantum measurement, as they incorporate processes with both classical and quantum outputs. In many scenarios, it may be desirable to have some "on-demand"device that is capable of implementing one of many possible instruments whenever the experimenter desires. We refer to such objects as programmable instrument devices (PIDs), and this paper studies PIDs from a resource-theoretic perspective. A physically important class of PIDs are those that do not require quantum memories to implement, and these are naturally "free"in this resource theory. Additionally, these free objects correspond precisely to the class of unsteerable channel assemblages in the study of channel steering. The traditional notion of measurement incompatibility emerges as a resource in this theory since any PID controlling an incompatible family of instruments requires a quantum memory to build. We identify an incompatibility preorder between PIDs based on whether one can be transformed into another using processes that do not require additional quantum memories. Necessary and sufficient conditions are derived for when such transformations are possible based on how well certain guessing games can be played using a given PID. Ultimately our results provide an operational characterization of incompatibility, and they offer semi-device-independent tests for incompatibility in the most general types of quantum instruments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number010340
JournalPRX Quantum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Computer Science
  • Mathematical Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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