Gapped quantum liquids and topological order, stochastic local transformations and emergence of unitarity


In this work we present some new understanding of topological order, including three main aspects: (1) It was believed that classifying topological orders corresponds to classifying gapped quantum states. We show that such a statement is not precise. We introduce the concept of \emph{gapped quantum liquid} as a special kind of gapped quantum states that can "dissolve" any product states on additional sites. Topologically ordered states actually correspond to gapped quantum liquids with stable ground-state degeneracy. Symmetry-breaking states for on-site symmetry are also gapped quantum liquids, but with unstable ground-state degeneracy. (2) We point out that the universality classes of generalized local unitary (gLU) transformations (without any symmetry) contain both topologically ordered states and symmetry-breaking states. This allows us to use a gLU invariant -- topological entanglement entropy -- to probe the symmetry-breaking properties hidden in the exact ground state of a finite system, which does not break any symmetry. This method can probe symmetry- breaking orders even without knowing the symmetry and the associated order parameters. (3) The universality classes of topological orders and symmetry-breaking orders can be distinguished by \emph{stochastic local (SL) transformations} (i.e.\ \emph{local invertible transformations}): small SL transformations can convert the symmetry-breaking classes to the trivial class of product states with finite probability of success, while the topological-order classes are stable against any small SL transformations, demonstrating a phenomenon of emergence of unitarity. This allows us to give a new definition of long-range entanglement based on SL transformations, under which only topologically ordered states are long-range entangled.Comment: Revised version. Figures and references adde

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