Asymmetric butterfly velocities in 2-local Hamiltonians

Yong-Liang Zhang, Vedika Khemani

SciPost Phys. 9, 024 (2020) · published 25 August 2020


The speed of information propagation is finite in quantum systems with local interactions. In many such systems, local operators spread ballistically in time and can be characterized by a ``butterfly velocity", which can be measured via out-of-time-ordered correlation functions. In general, the butterfly velocity can depend asymmetrically on the direction of information propagation. In this work, we construct a family of simple 2-local Hamiltonians for understanding the asymmetric hydrodynamics of operator spreading. Our models live on a one dimensional lattice and exhibit asymmetric butterfly velocities between the left and right spatial directions. This asymmetry is transparently understood in a free (non-interacting) limit of our model Hamiltonians, where the butterfly speed can be understood in terms of quasiparticle velocities.

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