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Timeevolution of local information: thermalization dynamics of local observables
by Thomas Klein Kvorning, Loïc Herviou, Jens H. Bardarson
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Authors (as registered SciPost users):  Jens H Bardarson · Thomas Klein Kvorning 
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Preprint Link:  https://arxiv.org/abs/2105.11206v1 (pdf) 
Date submitted:  20210707 10:28 
Submitted by:  Klein Kvorning, Thomas 
Submitted to:  SciPost Physics 
Ontological classification  

Academic field:  Physics 
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Approaches:  Theoretical, Computational 
Abstract
Quantum manybody dynamics generically results in increasing entanglement that eventually leads to thermalization of local observables. This makes the exact description of the dynamics complex despite the apparent simplicity of (hightemperature) thermal states. For accurate but approximate simulations one needs a way to keep track of essential (quantum) information while discarding inessential one. To this end, we first introduce the concept of the information lattice, which supplements the physical spatial lattice with an additional dimension and where a local Hamiltonian gives rise to well defined locally conserved von Neumann information current. This provides a convenient and insightful way of capturing the flow, through time and space, of information during quantum time evolution, and gives a distinct signature of when local degrees of freedom decouple from longrange entanglement. As an example, we describe such decoupling of local degrees of freedom for the mixed field transverse Ising model. Building on this, we secondly construct algorithms to timeevolve sets of local density matrices without any reference to a global state. With the notion of information currents, we can motivate algorithms based on the intuition that information for statistical reasons flow from small to large scales. Using this guiding principle, we construct an algorithm that, at worst, shows twodigit convergence in timeevolutions up to very late times for diffusion process governed by the mixed field transverse Ising Hamiltonian. While we focus on dynamics in 1D with nearestneighbor Hamiltonians, the algorithms do not essentially rely on these assumptions and can in principle be generalized to higher dimensions and more complicated Hamiltonians.
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Report #2 by Anonymous (Referee 2) on 20211018 (Invited Report)
 Cite as: Anonymous, Report on arXiv:2105.11206v1, delivered 20211017, doi: 10.21468/SciPost.Report.3695
Report
The presented ideas on information flow in quantum manybody systems are very interesting. Based on these, a simulation technique is introduced to only evolve reduced density matrices for small subsystems while avoiding any reference to a global state. While the proposed ideas and conjectures about manybody dynamics are very interesting, at this point, there appear to be gaps in the justification and numerical substantiation. For now, I don't see that the paper reaches the level of "groundbreaking results" that SciPost Physics aims for.
The approach is centered around the von Neumann information of subsystem states with a hierarchy of larger and larger subsystems. Using the mutual information, in a kind of cluster expansion, the total von Neumann information is written as a sum of mutual informations on subsystems of increasing sizes. It is then studied how these mutual informations evolve in time. As the total information is conserved, one can also define information currents. Arguing that information should generally flow from small to large scales, it is concluded that the dynamics on short scales should decouple from the dynamics on larger scales and a corresponding simulation technique on subsystem density matrices is suggested. The technique is tested for a certain highenergy state of the Ising chain with transverse and longitudinal fields. Results for truncations of the hierarchy at different maximum length scales l are compared to l=9 and convergence of the l<9 results to the l=9 results is observed.
I have some questions on the concepts that don't appear to be answered in the current version of the manuscript:
1) It is unclear why a decay of information flow between different length scales would imply an uncoupling of the corresponding dynamics. If we observe that mutual informations for small subsystems equilibrate, why should this imply a decoupling of the local dynamics from that on larger length scales?
2) It is stated multiple times that information should generally flow from small length scales to larger length scales. It is likely that one can specify scenarios where this behavior occurs, but the paper does not attempt to give specific preconditions or to give a proof. For what it's worth, nothing keeps us from considering, for example, a highly entangled initial state psi(t0) which has been obtained by evolution under Hamiltonian H starting from a product state. Evolving this state with H would lead to a decay of longrange entanglement for t=0 to t0. Revival scenarios that have been discussed theoretically and observed in experiments should correspond to cases where "information" flows forth and back between different length scales.
3) An important role is hence played by the truncation scheme. The authors suggest Petz recovery maps and employing Gibbs states that are compatible with the density matrices of small subsystems. It is not obvious why the steady states that are obtained in this way would not decisively depend on the truncation scheme and what properties a truncation scheme should have in order to obstruct the evolution on small scales as little as possible.
4) The paper does not address the Nrepresentability problem: Given local states, it is unclear whether a compatible global state exists at all. In fact, the Nrepresentability problem is known to be QMA complete. Hence, the proposed "Gibbs state defined by \Omega^l" (the lsite subsystem density matrices) may not exist. One may only be able to find a best approximation.
The benchmark simulations are done for an Ising chain and an initial state that is the identity except for a single site. Results for truncation at l<9 are compared to the result for l=9. The shown observables are the diffusion constant and a singlesite magnetization.
Seeing that deviations of l=7 are smaller than those of l=8 etc. is not conclusive. To make a convincing argument about convergence, it would be advisable to compare against an independent quasiexact simulation technique. For short times, this could be done with exact diagonalization or timedependent DMRG. Given that some assumptions about the dynamics, that are needed for the approach to work, are difficult to prove, it would be very useful to show data for further models like the Heisenberg chain and/or the Hubbard model. It would also be helpful to see the performance for initial states other than the employed highenergy product state.
Some minor comments on the presentation:
 The introduction and other parts of the text appear a bit lengthy and repetitive. Conjectures about properties of the manybody dynamics like the dominance of information flow to larger scales are repeated a number of times.
 There are some minor orthographic mistakes like "in a course grained picture", "note that care most be taken", "Hilbertspace".
 Some notations are unusual like the "n" below "Tr" in Eq. (51) or "l>l'<L" on page 13. Also, I'd interpret "\rho_{[n,n+l]}" as an l+1 site density matrix instead of the intended lsite density matrices.
 The word "information" is apparently used with different meanings: the mutual information and the subsystem density matrices. This can be confusing at times.
 Some equation references seem mistaken. For example, the caption of Figure 7 refers to Eq. (53) as the initial state.
Report #1 by Anonymous (Referee 1) on 2021811 (Invited Report)
 Cite as: Anonymous, Report on arXiv:2105.11206v1, delivered 20210811, doi: 10.21468/SciPost.Report.3370
Report
The purpose of the manuscript is twofold: first, the authors introduce a concept for characterizing the evolution of quantum information in farfromequilibrium settings (the socalled information lattice) and study its behavior in a paradigmatic example. In the second part, they build on the intuition gained from this to propose a numerical method for simulating such quantum dynamics with limited classical resources, which they benchmark by calculating a diffusion constant in the same model.
I found the paper quite interesting. The information lattice is a nice and intuitive way of picturing the flow of quantum information from small to large scales and the emergence of thermal states. The proposed numerical technique is certainly very timely, with several other works proposing methods to accomplish similar goals in recent years. For these reasons, I think the manuscript is very well suited for publication in SciPost. However, there are various questions and comments I have that I think should be addressed before publication.
1) I found some parts of the paper somewhat difficult to read. In particular, the introduction is quite long and hard to follow, since the relevant definitions are only introduced later on. Indeed, certain parts of it are later repeated almost verbatim.
Also, the technical derivation in App. A is hard to follow, with various notations introduced. While I understand that this might be unavoidable, I think it would be beneficial for the readers to have a shorter summary of what exactly are the steps of the algorithm.
2) The authors claim at several places that under the unitary dynamics, information only ever flows from smaller to larger scales, without any 'backflow'. If this was the case, then in principle it would be possible to simulate local properties *exactly* with very limited resources (keeping only subsystems up to l=2,3 say). It seems unlikely to me that this is true. Indeed, such backflow processes are mentioned e.g. in arXiv 1710.09835. This question, and its relevance for the proposed algorithm, should be discussed, at least briefly.
3) In the manuscript, only a single model is considered, taken from Ref. 46. My understanding is that this particular model might be quite special  in Ref. 46 it was found that it is possible to accurately simulate its dynamics using TDVP, while this is not true in general, as was shown later in arXiv 1710.09378. This raises the question whether the rapid convergence seen in the present manuscript might also be due to some particular properties of this model.
On a related note: in Ref. 46, the best estimate of the diffusion constant seems to be around D=0.55. This is different from the result claimed here (D=0.45) by about 20%. Do the authors have a proposed resolution of this discrepancy?
4) While the authors admit that the condition in Eq. (60) is only heuristic, I would have found it useful to have a slightly more detailed discussion of why one would expect it to be a reasonably good approximation, or indeed to test it numerically (I also do not understand the analogy with Fick's law).
Relatedly, it seems to me that for longer range interactions, one would need to supplement it with additional conditions for the longer range currents (J_{l>l+2} etc), so it is not immediately clear how to apply the method to these cases.
Some smaller comments:
5) The discussion of 'local equilibrium' in the paper is somewhat confusing. In the manuscript, it is defined by the requirement of vanishing information current at some scale. However, I would expect that the current never exactly vanishes (indeed, the authors themselves say this in a footnote), so it is unclear what the precise definition should be, and whether the distinction between finite/infinite local equilibration time is meaningful. In particular, even for a translationally invariant state, one expects a slow, powerlaw approach towards the thermal state (see e.g. arXiv 1311.7644). Would the authors expect this not to show up in the quantities they consider?
6) I found the discussion of the relationship between the new numerical method proposed and the existing literature somewhat lacking. It is claimed that previous methods underestimate the information current at some intermediate scale. But it is unclear why this is an issue, if we take at face value the claim that there is no flow of information from these scales back to the smaller scales of interest (see point (2) above). It is also not clear if this claim is even true of all the previous methods mentioned. In particular, the one in Ref. 48 is very similar in spirit to the one proposed here.
7) Some typos: 'fullfilling', 'full filled', 'Hilbertspace', 'below expressions'
Author: Thomas Klein Kvorning on 20220615 [id 2582]
(in reply to Report 1 on 20210811)
We are happy that the referee finds our article “quite interesting”. We are thankful to the referee for finding errors and pointing out the parts of the article which can be misunderstood. We have made a major revision of the presentation and it hopefully now should be more clear.
1a) I found some parts of the paper somewhat difficult to read. In particular, the introduction is quite long and hard to follow, since the relevant definitions are only introduced later on. Indeed, certain parts of it are later repeated almost verbatim.
We made a significant revision to resolve these issues.
1b) Also, the technical derivation in App. A is hard to follow, with various notations introduced. While I understand that this might be unavoidable, I think it would be beneficial for the readers to have a shorter summary of what exactly are the steps of the algorithm.
In App. A we introduce some technical notation needed to make some of the technical derivations in the preceding appendices less involved. We explain the algorithm in the main text of the paper. However, in App. B, we present how to effectively perform the minimization of Taylor expansion of the total information. One could consider it part of the algorithm since if one, e.g., naively constructed the entire Hessian matrix and inverted it, the truncation values that one could reach would be much smaller than we use. However, since this optimization is not needed to define the algorithm and is somewhat technical, we thought it more suitable for an Appendix.
2) The authors claim at several places that under the unitary dynamics, information only ever flows from smaller to larger scales, without any 'backflow'. If this was the case, then in principle it would be possible to simulate local properties exactly with very limited resources (keeping only subsystems up to l=2,3 say). It seems unlikely to me that this is true. Indeed, such backflow processes are mentioned e.g. in arXiv 1710.09835. This question, and its relevance for the proposed algorithm, should be discussed, at least briefly.
We apologize if we have been unclear. We assume that the general flow is from small to large scales and that the effect of correlation on large scales rapidly decays with scale. Information can return from one scale to a slightly smaller one. One can see such examples in our data. We made this more apparent in the current manuscript.
3a) In the manuscript, only a single model is considered, taken from Ref. 46. My understanding is that this particular model might be quite special  in Ref. 46 it was found that it is possible to accurately simulate its dynamics using TDVP, while this is not true in general, as was shown later in arXiv 1710.09378. This raises the question whether the rapid convergence seen in the present manuscript might also be due to some particular properties of this model.
We did not want to make the paper even longer by presenting data for several different models. Wether the Matrixproductstate timedependent variational principle (MPSTDVP) works is not a yes/no question. As the referee mentions, the estimate given by MPSTDVP from ref. 10 is roughly in the range D=0.5 to 0.55. These are only the fluctuations in the late time approximation of the diffusion coefficient (the diffusion constant); the worst finite time estimates of the diffusion coefficient have much larger fluctuations. The chosen model is not finetuned to work particularly well with MPSTDVP, and there are situations where MPSTDVP works better and situations where it works worse. As the referee mentioned, there are also situations where MPSTDVP works much worse when the diffusion coefficient plateau to seemingly one diffusion constant, and then at a later time (which is bonddimension dependent), the diffusion coefficient changes to another plateau with a value that can differ by more than 100%. The conclusion we draw is that it was somewhat “lucky” in ref. 10 that the MPTDVP algorithm works reasonably well. However, it is by no means a finetuned point.
Nevertheless, to ease the referees' worry, let us share some data for another model used in the literature. Here we consider the mixed field Ising Hamiltonian from Ref. 12 (arxiv:2004.05177, ref 48 in the old manuscript), studied with the dissipationassisted operator evolution method (in the attached data, we use the same conventions and consider the same simulation as there). We attach a figure with truncation values l_c=6,7,8 (we skipped the largest truncation value we use in the article). Convergence is very similar to the model we consider in the article (but slightly faster since we reach less than 1% difference between the largest truncation variables at one truncation value smaller). For easy comparison, the plot is made with the same scale as Figure 3c in Ref. 12.
After carefully examining the data in Ref. 12, our data seem to agree. Ref. 12 defines the diffusion constant as the average in the timerange 1520. Let's call this average D. (This underestimates the diffusion constant since it's still increasing at t=15, but we use this definition to compare.) They have two truncation variables, l and \gamma, and their algorithm is exact in the limit of either l\rightarrow\infty or \gamma\rightarrow0. To get a value for D, they linearly extrapolate D(\gamma) to D(0) for different values of l. See attached Figure arxiv2004.05177Fig3a, taken from ref 12 (but with the thin dashed lines added by us). Since they do a linear extrapolation to \gamma=0 and D(\gamma) has a positive second derivative, they have underestimated the diffusion constant (see the aforementioned figure). Instead, a quadratic extrapolation gives diffusion constants in the range [1.41,1.43] (the thin dashed lines added by us in the figure). This agrees with the value gotten from our largest truncation value, 1.42, which converged to 1%. (We converge from above, so our value is an overestimation. An exponential extrapolation where we assume the relative difference continues to decrease at the same rate as for the two largest pairs of values gives the value D=1.411. The data set from Ref. 12, which seems most reasonable to extrapolate, is for l=4. The quadratic extrapolation of that dataset gives D=1.409, 0.1% smaller than our estimate, well within tolerance.)
3b) On a related note: in Ref. 46, the best estimate of the diffusion constant seems to be around D=0.55. This is different from the result claimed here (D=0.45) by about 20%. Do the authors have a proposed resolution of this discrepancy?
We are not worried that our estimate of the diffusion constant is almost 20% smaller than the MPTDVP result. The fluctuations with the bond dimension of the MPTDVP estimate of the diffusion coefficient at late times (i.e., the diffusion constant) converge to less than 10%. However, the most considerable fluctuations at intermediate times are much more significant than 20%. So the MPTDVP estimate could be 20% wrong.
4) While the authors admit that the condition in Eq. (60) is only heuristic, I would have found it useful to have a slightly more detailed discussion of why one would expect it to be a reasonably good approximation, or indeed to test it numerically (I also do not understand the analogy with Fick's law).
Relatedly, it seems to me that for longer range interactions, one would need to supplement it with additional conditions for the longer range currents (J_{l>l+2} etc), so it is not immediately clear how to apply the method to these cases.
First, the analogy with Fick’s law was unfortunate and based on indirect reasoning. We agree that it is not clear and have removed it from the updated manuscript.
The heuristic boundary condition is based on the idea that the relative change in the information in layer l and layer l+1 should be roughly the same during a small time interval.
A similar condition with a more extended range Hamiltonian can also be used, but it is correct as the referee states that the precise expression would look different.
5a) The discussion of 'local equilibrium' in the paper is somewhat confusing. In the manuscript, it is defined by the requirement of vanishing information current at some scale.
Yes, we agree that the term local equilibrium, which we used, could lead to confusion, so we renamed it. Thank you for the comment.
5b) However, I would expect that the current never exactly vanishes (indeed, the authors themselves say this in a footnote), so it is unclear what the precise definition should be, and whether the distinction between finite/infinite local equilibration time is meaningful. In particular, even for a translationally invariant state, one expects a slow, powerlaw approach towards the thermal state (see e.g. arXiv 1311.7644). Would the authors expect this not to show up in the quantities they consider?
As the referee mentions, with a translation invariant Hamiltonian and a homogenous initial state still, the local density matrices, generically, have corrections that have a powerlaw approach to the equilibrium values. It was a mistake to suggest otherwise. We have added a clarifying paragraph.
Concerning the current exactly vanishing, it, of course, never does. The question is if it decays fast enough that an llocal Gibbs state can (up to some tolerance) be used to calculate the derivatives of the llocal density matrices.
6a) I found the discussion of the relationship between the new numerical method proposed and the existing literature somewhat lacking. It is claimed that previous methods underestimate the information current at some intermediate scale. But it is unclear why this is an issue, if we take at face value the claim that there is no flow of information from these scales back to the smaller scales of interest (see point (2) above).
Our line of reasoning is that if the current is consistently severely underestimated, the erroneous buildup would eventually become significantly larger than the information on small scales that we try to capture. So even if a tiny fraction returns, the estimates of the local observables could be very skewed. Nevertheless, suppose the influence of the correlations on a scale l_c on small scales decrease exponentially as l_c increase. In that case, this buildup of information will eventually (as the referee argues) for large enough l_c not be an issue. The point is that with any algorithm, one can only reach modest values of l_c, so this slowdown in convergence is a problem.
6b) It is also not clear if this claim is even true of all the previous methods mentioned. In particular, the one in Ref. 48 is very similar in spirit to the one proposed here. (Author comment: Ref 48 is Ref 12 in the new manuscript (arxiv:2004.05177))
In the discussion we think the referee referred to, we wanted to make the point that a timeevolution algorithm where one repeatedly approximates using states which have correlations decaying exponentially for scales larger than a value l* (given by the truncation value) will lead to underestimation of information currents at that scale. (This is, e.g., true for MPS and MPOs.) The reason is that such states will necessarily also have exponentially decaying information current. Therefore, the information current will be underestimated, leading to a buildup of erroneous information.
As stated by the referee, the dissipationassisted operator evolution method from Ref. 12 can be expected to (at least partially) overcome this issue. To understand why let us give a simplified picture of that algorithm. It is based on repeatedly timeevolving the state quasiexactly for some time \Delta t and then approximating by a smaller bond dimension MPO but preserving the l smallest density matrices. After that approximate step, the information current is most likely underestimated at l, but one would expect it relatively fast to return to the correct value. So if \Delta t is large, the timeaveraged information current would be roughly correct. It was unfortunate that our previous passage implied otherwise.
Author: Thomas Klein Kvorning on 20220615 [id 2581]
(in reply to Report 2 on 20211018)First, we apologize for the slow response time and thank the referee for commenting and reading our manuscript.
We are glad to hear that the referee finds our ideas "very interesting" but are sorry that they still think the paper does not meet the criteria for publication in SciPost. By reading the referees' comments, we have concluded that the recommendation of not publishing is based partly on misunderstanding some of the material and partly on misunderstanding the purpose of this article. We have made an extensive rewriting of the article to make it more pedagogical and hope this will avoid confusion in the future.
This article aims to introduce the information lattice as a tool to diagnose manybody quantum dynamics. To show that this tool is valuable, we show that the intuition gained from using it leads to a development of an algorithm to capture the evolution of local observables without also simulating longer range correlations. There is vast literature on trying to accomplish such algorithms (see references in the article). The information lattice exposes weaknesses in previous attempts and, as we show, also points to a way forward in overcoming these weaknesses. Answer to the questions.
If the system has reached equilibrium, the local density matrices have decoupled from longrange correlations. That is the basis of quantum statistical mechanics. We generalize this in the article. Suppose the information on some scale vanishes, say at L. In that case, one can calculate the derivative of the local density matrices on scale L1 without reference to any correlations on longer scales. These local density matrices can thus be timeevolved without knowing correlations on larger scales.
A simple counting argument will tell you that the number of constraints you have to put on a state to get the same amount of information on scale l grows exponentially as l decreases. This counting argument is the basis for why information generically flows from small scales to large. Our algorithms rely on this assumption and will surely fail if it is not fulfilled. Therefore, we cannot capture the phenomena the referee mentioned in their question. But that has never been our intent; the point we (and several others referenced in the article) are making is that you can capture the timeevolution of local observables in typical timeevolutions with small resources. Still, of course, one cannot tackle the general case of quantum manybody timeevolution.
Let us discuss the two examples the referee mentioned in more detail to see why they are irrelevant.
First, quantum revivals in finite systems indeed cannot be captured by our algorithm. However, revival depends on a maximal scale to which information can flow. The premises for our work is large systems where information can escape to arbitrarily large scales. By construction, we cannot study finitesize corrections.
The referee's second example is a local state that is timeevolving with a generic local Hamiltonian for a long time T, after which the Hamiltonian is timereversed. For this example, our algorithm would surely fail. However, this example is finetuned: only a minimal perturbation of the Hamiltonian after the timeinversion will generically mean that information will not return to the smallest scales. A classical analog of this example is an initial state where all molecules in a room are contained within a small volume. Using the second law of thermodynamics, one can conclude that the air will soon be roughly homogenous. However, if the Hamiltonian were then timereversed, the entropy would rapidly decrease, and all molecules would again collect in a small volume. Does this mean that we should abandon the second law of thermodynamics?
In the paper, we say that if an information gap occurs in the information lattice, then the timederivative of the local density matrices is unchanged if we assume the state to be a local Gibbs state. This is a true statement. (What cannot be guaranteed is that even if a gap opens, information from large scales does not at a later time return, and then this statement would no longer be accurate.)
If no such gap occurs, we do not have a solution to timeevolve the local density matrices with a definite bound on the error. In this case, we make the point that one cannot timeevolve the local density matrices by assuming that the state is a local Gibbs state.
The referee also asks why one at all would trust a truncation scheme controlled by convergence with a truncation variable. This is again asked in 5), so we postpone the answer to that question.
First, is the Nrepresentability problem relevant for the examples we consider in the article? No, it's not. To understand why, consider a typical state on a Hilbertspace with dimension D and consider reduced density matrices up to some precision \epsilon on dimension d<<D. Then it is generically not a hard problem to reconstruct a density matrix consistent with these small density matrices. Our examples are similar to this situation. We can find a generalized Gibbs state consistent with the local density matrices, so at least one compatible density matrix exists.
Second, can we find an llocal Gibbs state given any local density matrices, and would that not contradict the Nrepresentability problem? No, we cannot, and yes, it would. As we explain, our algorithm only converges if there exists an llocal Gibbs state with a correlation length short compared to the maximal size of density matrices we can handle.
As we explain in the article, the timeevolution is quasiexact (has a controlled bound on the error) for short times. The times one could reach with timedependent DMRG where there is a reasonable small bound on the error are roughly the same as our algorithm. So we cannot see the point with that exercise.
We present a novel approach to simulate quantum manybody dynamics and exemplify it on a nontrivial used previously in the literature, in ref. 10. As opposed to, e.g., ref. 10 also employing uncontrolled truncation schemes, we show that we have convergence for all times, not just, e.g., the diffusion coefficient at infinite time, we also nonlocal observables such as the information currents. If you only have convergence at late times and a region of intermediate times where the algorithm where you have large fluctuations, then we can see why it can be hard to trust. However, with that said. To be fully confident that there, e.g., is not a slow drift of the values, we would have liked to see a convergence that continued a few orders of magnitude after a rough convergence of, say, 1% occurred. We agree that there is still room for objections to how well the data has converged, but we would like to point out that we know no algorithm where a higher degree of convergence has been seen with the same amount of numerical resources. (We are currently working on a new algorithm building on the ideas of this article, for which we expect to see much faster convergence.)
Concerning studying other time evolutions, we refer to the answer given to the other referees' questions.