Following evolution of an open quantum system one requires full knowledge of its dynamics. In this paper we consider open quantum systems for which the Hamiltonian is “uncertain.” In particular, we treat in detail a simple system similar to that considered by Mabuchi [Quant. Semiclass. Opt. 8, 1103 (1996)]: a radiatively damped atom driven by an unknown Rabi frequency (as would occur for an atom at an unknown point in a standing light wave). By measuring the environment of the system, knowledge about the system state, and about the uncertain dynamical parameter, can be acquired. We find that these two sorts of knowledge acquisition (quantified by the posterior distribution for and the conditional purity of the system, respectively) are quite distinct processes, which are not strongly correlated. Also, the quality and quantity of knowledge gain depend strongly on the type of monitoring scheme. We compare five different detection schemes (direct, adaptive, homodyne of the x quadrature, homodyne of the y quadrature, and heterodyne) using four different measures of the knowledge gain (Shannon information about variance in long-time system purity, and short-time system purity).
- Received 7 March 2001
- Published 13 September 2001
© 2001 The American Physical Society