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Measurement-Induced Phase Transitions in the Dynamics of Entanglement

Abstract

We define dynamical universality classes for many-body systems whose unitary evolution is punctuated by projective measurements. In cases where such measurements occur randomly at a finite rate pp for each degree of freedom, we show that the system has two dynamical phases: `entangling' and `disentangling'. The former occurs for pp smaller than a critical rate pcp_c, and is characterized by volume-law entanglement in the steady-state and `ballistic' entanglement growth after a quench. By contrast, for p>pcp > p_c the system can sustain only area-law entanglement. At p=pcp = p_c the steady state is scale-invariant and, in 1+1D, the entanglement grows logarithmically after a quench. To obtain a simple heuristic picture for the entangling-disentangling transition, we first construct a toy model that describes the zeroth R\'{e}nyi entropy in discrete time. We solve this model exactly by mapping it to an optimization problem in classical percolation. The generic entangling-disentangling transition can be diagnosed using the von Neumann entropy and higher R\'{e}nyi entropies, and it shares many qualitative features with the toy problem. We study the generic transition numerically in quantum spin chains, and show that the phenomenology of the two phases is similar to that of the toy model, but with distinct `quantum' critical exponents, which we calculate numerically in 1+11+1D. We examine two different cases for the unitary dynamics: Floquet dynamics for a nonintegrable Ising model, and random circuit dynamics. We obtain compatible universal properties in each case, indicating that the entangling-disentangling phase transition is generic for projectively measured many-body systems. We discuss the significance of this transition for numerical calculations of quantum observables in many-body systems.Comment: 17+4 pages, 16 figures; updated discussion and results for mutual information; graphics error fixe

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