Feynman–Vernon influence functional (IF) was originally introduced to describe the effect of a quantum environment on the dynamics of an open quantum system. We apply the IF approach to describe quantum many-body dynamics in isolated spin systems, viewing the system as an environment for its local subsystems. While the IF can be computed exactly only in certain many-body models, it generally satisfies a self-consistency equation, provided the system, or an ensemble of systems, are translationally invariant. We view the IF as a fictitious wavefunction in the temporal domain, and approximate it using matrix-product states (MPS). This approach is efficient provided the temporal entanglement of the IF is sufficiently low. We illustrate the broad applicability of the IF approach by analyzing several models that exhibit a range of dynamical behaviors, from thermalizing to many-body localized. In particular, we study the non-equilibrium dynamics in the quantum Ising model in both Floquet and Hamiltonian settings. We find that temporal entanglement entropy may be significantly lower compared to the spatial entanglement and analyze the IF in the continuous-time limit. We simulate the thermodynamic-limit evolution of local observables in various regimes, including the relaxation of impurities embedded in an infinite-temperature chain, and the long-lived oscillatory dynamics of the magnetization associated with the confinement of excitations. Furthermore, by incorporating disorder-averaging into the formalism, we analyze discrete time-crystalline response using the IF of a bond-disordered kicked Ising chain. In this case, we find that the temporal entanglement entropy scales logarithmically with evolution time. The IF approach offers a new lens on many-body non-equilibrium phenomena, both in ergodic and non-ergodic regimes, connecting the theory of open quantum systems to quantum statistical physics.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Many-body localization
- Open quantum systems
- Periodically driven (Floquet) many-body systems
- Quantum many-body dynamics