Achieving minimum-error discrimination of an arbitrary set of laser-light pulses

Marcus P. Da Silva, Saikat Guha, Zachary Dutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Laser light is widely used for communication and sensing applications, so the optimal discrimination of coherent states - the quantum states of light emitted by an ideal laser - has immense practical importance. Due to fundamental limits imposed by quantum mechanics, such discrimination has a finite minimum probability of error. While concrete optical circuits for the optimal discrimination between two coherent states are well known, the generalization to larger sets of coherent states has been challenging. In this paper, we show how to achieve optimal discrimination of any set of coherent states using a resource-efficient quantum computer. Our construction leverages a recent result on discriminating multicopy quantum hypotheses. As illustrative examples, we analyze the performance of discriminating a ternary alphabet and show how the quantum circuit of a receiver designed to discriminate a binary alphabet can be reused in discriminating multimode hypotheses. Finally, we show that our result can be used to achieve the quantum limit on the rate of classical information transmission on a lossy optical channel, which is known to exceed the Shannon rate of all conventional optical receivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number052320
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 23 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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