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Out-of-time-ordered correlators (OTOCs) have received considerable recent attention as qualitative witnesses of information scrambling in many-body quantum systems. Theoretical discussions of OTOCs typically focus on closed systems, raising the question of their suitability as scrambling witnesses in realistic open systems. We demonstrate empirically that the nonclassical negativity of the quasiprobability distribution (QPD) behind the OTOC is a more sensitive witness for scrambling than the OTOC itself. Nonclassical features of the QPD evolve with timescales that are robust with respect to decoherence and are immune to false positives caused by decoherence. To reach this conclusion, we numerically simulate spinchain dynamics and three measurement protocols (the interferometric, quantum-clock, and weakmeasurement schemes) for measuring OTOCs. We target experiments based on quantum-computing hardware such as superconducting qubits and trapped ions.


This article was originally published in Physical Review Letters, volume 122, in 2019. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.122.040404

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American Physical Society



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