Nonlinear Quantum Evolution Equations to Model Irreversible Adiabatic Relaxation with Maximal Entropy Production and Other Nonunitary Processes

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Beretta, Gian Paolo
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We first discuss the geometrical construction and the main mathematical features of the maximum-entropy-production/steepest-entropy-ascent nonlinear evolution equation proposed long ago by this author in the framework of a fully quantum theory of irreversibility and thermodynamics for a single isolated or adiabatic particle, qubit, or qudit, and recently rediscovered by other authors. The nonlinear equation generates a dynamical group, not just a semigroup, providing a deterministic description of irreversible conservative relaxation towards equilibrium from any non-equilibrium density operator. It satisfies a very restrictive stability requirement equivalent to the Hatsopoulos-Keenan statement of the second law of thermodynamics. We then examine the form of the evolution equation we proposed to describe multipartite isolated or adiabatic systems. This hinges on novel nonlinear projections defining local operators that we interpret as ``local perceptions'' of the overall system's energy and entropy. Each component particle contributes an independent local tendency along the direction of steepest increase of the locally perceived entropy at constant locally perceived energy. It conserves both the locally-perceived energies and the overall energy, and meets strong separability and non-signaling conditions, even though the local evolutions are not independent of existing correlations. We finally show how the geometrical construction can readily lead to other thermodynamically relevant models, such as of the nonunitary isoentropic evolution needed for full extraction of a system's adiabatic availability.
Comment: To appear in Reports on Mathematical Physics. Presented at the The Jubilee 40th Symposium on Mathematical Physics, "Geometry & Quanta", Torun, Poland, June 25-28, 2008
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Quantum Physics
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