Quantum preparation uncertainty and lack of information

Filip Rozpedek, Jȩdrzej Kaniewski, Patrick J. Coles, Stephanie Wehner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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The quantum uncertainty principle famously predicts that there exist measurements that are inherently incompatible, in the sense that their outcomes cannot be predicted simultaneously. In contrast, no such uncertainty exists in the classical domain, where all uncertainty results from ignorance about the exact state of the physical system. Here, we critically examine the concept of preparation uncertainty and ask whether similarly in the quantum regime, some of the uncertainty that we observe can actually also be understood as a lack of information (LOI), albeit a lack of quantum information. We answer this question affirmatively by showing that for the well known measurements employed in BB84 quantum key distribution (Bennett and Brassard 1984 Int. Conf. on Computer System and Signal Processing), the amount of uncertainty can indeed be related to the amount of available information about additional registers determining the choice of the measurement. We proceed to show that also for other measurements the amount of uncertainty is in part connected to a LOI. Finally, we discuss the conceptual implications of our observation to the security of cryptographic protocols that make use of BB84 states.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023038
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • guessing probability
  • measurement uncertainty
  • quantum foundations
  • quantum guessing game
  • quantum information
  • uncertainty principle


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