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The more information a measurement provides about a quantum system’s position statistics, the less information a subsequent measurement can provide about the system’s momentum statistics. This information trade-off is embodied in the entropic formulation of the uncertainty principle. Traditionally, uncertainly relations correspond to resolution limits; increasing a detector’s position sensitivity decreases its momentum sensitivity and vice versa. However, this is not required in general; for example, position information can instead be extracted at the cost of noise in momentum. Using random, partial projections in position followed by strong measurements in momentum, we efficiently determine the transverse-position and transverse-momentum distributions of an unknown optical field with a single set of measurements. The momentum distribution is directly imaged, while the position distribution is recovered using compressive sensing. At no point do we violate uncertainty relations; rather, we economize the use of information we obtain.


This article was originally published in Physical Review Letters, volume 112, issue 25, in 2014.

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American Physical Society

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