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Information Scrambling with Conservation Laws

Jonah Kudler-Flam, Ramanjit Sohal, Laimei Nie

SciPost Phys. 12, 117 (2022) · published 4 April 2022


The delocalization or scrambling of quantum information has emerged as a central ingredient in the understanding of thermalization in isolated quantum many-body systems. Recently, significant progress has been made analytically by modeling non-integrable systems as stochastic systems, lacking a Hamiltonian picture, while honest Hamiltonian dynamics are frequently limited to small system sizes due to computational constraints. In this paper, we address this by investigating the role of conservation laws (including energy conservation) in the thermalization process from an information-theoretic perspective. For general non-integrable models, we use the equilibrium approximation to show that the maximal amount of information is scrambled (as measured by the tripartite mutual information of the time-evolution operator) at late times even when a system conserves energy. In contrast, we explicate how when a system has additional symmetries that lead to degeneracies in the spectrum, the amount of information scrambled must decrease. This general theory is exemplified in case studies of holographic conformal field theories (CFTs) and the Sachdev-Ye-Kitaev (SYK) model. Due to the large Virasoro symmetry in 1+1D CFTs, we argue that, in a sense, these holographic theories are not maximally chaotic, which is explicitly seen by the non-saturation of the second R\'enyi tripartite mutual information. The roles of particle-hole and U(1) symmetries in the SYK model are milder due to the degeneracies being only two-fold, which we confirm explicitly at both large- and small-$N$. We reinterpret the operator entanglement in terms the growth of local operators, connecting our results with the information scrambling described by out-of-time-ordered correlators, identifying the mechanism for suppressed scrambling from the Heisenberg perspective.

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