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We analytically and numerically investigate the performance of weak-value amplification (WVA) and related parameter estimation methods in the presence of temporally correlated noise. WVA is a special instance of a general measurement strategy that involves sorting data into separate subsets based on the outcome of a second “partitioning” measurement. Using a simplified correlated noise model that can be analyzed exactly together with optimal statistical estimators, we compare WVA to a conventional measurement method. We find that WVA indeed yields a much lower variance of the parameter of interest than the conventional technique does, optimized in the absence of any partitioning measurements. In contrast, a statistically optimal analysis that employs partitioning measurements, incorporating all partitioned results and their known correlations, is found to yield an improvement—typically slight—over the noise reduction achieved by WVA. This result occurs because the simple WVA technique is not tailored to any specific noise environment and therefore does not make use of correlations between the different partitions. We also compare WVA to traditional background subtraction, a familiar technique where measurement outcomes are partitioned to eliminate unknown offsets or errors in calibration. Surprisingly, for the cases we consider, background subtraction turns out to be a special case of the optimal partitioning approach, possessing a similar typically slight advantage over WVA. These results give deeper insight into the role of partitioning measurements (with or without postselection) in enhancing measurement precision, which some have found puzzling. They also resolve previously made conflicting claims about the usefulness of weak-value amplification to precision measurement in the presence of correlated noise. We finish by presenting numerical results to model a more realistic laboratory situation of time-decaying correlations, showing that our conclusions hold for a wide range of statistical models.


This article was originally published in Physical Review A, volume 96, in 2017. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.96.052128

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American Physical Society



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