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Quantum Mechanics by Giorgio Parisi, Mauro Fortunato, Gennaro Auletta

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14

Quantum theory of open systems

In this chapter we shall deal with the quantum dynamics of an open system. By open quantum system we mean here a system which interacts with an environment (see Sec. 9.4): since we are not interested in the dynamics of the environment, we shall have to describe the evolution of the system in some “effective” way. In particular, if we consider only the evolution of the system, it will be non-unitary, and this will represent the subject of this chapter. As we know, Hamiltonian quantum dynamics is unitary and changes pure states into pure states. On the other hand, non-unitary dynamics changes an initially pure state into a mixture, which must be described by a density matrix (see Ch. 5). In the case of macroscopic ...

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