Relativistic Quantum Tasks

Adlam, Emily Christine


Quantum mechanics, which describes the behaviour of matter and energy on very small scales, is one of the most successful theories in the history of science. Einstein's theory of special relativity, which describes the relationship between space and time, is likewise a highly successful and widely accepted theory. And yet there is a well-documented tension between the two theories, to the extent that it is still not clear that the two can ever be reconciled. This thesis is concerned with furthering the current understanding of the relationship between quantum mechanics and special relativity. In the first part of the thesis we study the behaviour of quantum information in relativistic spacetime. The field of quantum information arose from the realisation that quantum information has a number of crucial properties that distinguish it from classical information, such as the no-cloning property, quantum contextuality, and quantum discord. More recently, it has been realised that placing quantum information under relativistic constraints leads to the emergence of further unique features which are not exhibited by either non-relativistic quantum information or relativistic classical information; as part of this ongoing research programme we develop a new relativistic quantum `paradox' which puts pressure on conventional views about the spatiotemporal persistence of quantum states over time. We then study a new set of relativistic quantum protocols which involve the distribution of entangled states over spacetime, defining one task involving the distribution of the two halves of a known entangled state, and another task involving the distribution of the two halves of an unknown entangled state. The second part of the thesis deals with relativistic quantum cryptography, a field which first began attracting serious attention when it was realised that a cryptographic task known as `bit commitment,' can be implemented with perfect security under relativistic constraints. This result was highly significant, since it is provably impossible to implement bit commitment with perfect security in a purely classical or purely quantum context, and hence bit commitment is an ideal starting point for probing the power of relativistic quantum cryptography. In this thesis we propose several new relativistic quantum bit commitment protocols which have notable advantages over previously known protocols. We then move to a related task, a generalization of zero-knowledge proving which we refer to as knowledge-concealing evidencing of knowledge of a quantum state; we prove no-go theorems concerning the possibility of implementing this task with perfect security, and then set out a relativistic protocol for the task which is asymptotically secure as the dimension of the state in question becomes large. These results have interesting foundational significance above and beyond their applications in the field of cryptography, providing a new perspective on the connections between knowledge, realism and quantum states.