Operator spreading in quantum maps

Sanjay Moudgalya, Trithep Devakul, C. W. Von Keyserlingk, S. L. Sondhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Operators in ergodic spin chains are found to grow according to hydrodynamical equations of motion. The study of such operator spreading has aided our understanding of many-body quantum chaos in spin chains. Here we initiate the study of "operator spreading" in quantum maps on a torus, systems which do not have a tensor-product Hilbert space or a notion of spatial locality. Using the perturbed Arnold cat map as an example, we analytically compare and contrast the evolutions of functions on classical phase space and quantum operator evolutions, and identify distinct timescales that characterize the dynamics of operators in quantum chaotic maps. Until an Ehrenfest time, the quantum system exhibits classical chaos, i.e., it mimics the behavior of the corresponding classical system. After an operator scrambling time, the operator looks "random" in the initial basis, a characteristic feature of quantum chaos. These timescales can be related to the quasienergy spectrum of the unitary via the spectral form factor. Furthermore, we show examples of "emergent classicality" in quantum problems far away from the classical limit. Finally, we study operator evolution in nonchaotic and mixed quantum maps using the Chirikov standard map as an example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number094312
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 27 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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