Universal Limit on Communication



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PIRSA Number: 
18020051

Abstract

I derive a universal upper bound on the capacity of any communication channel between two distant systems. The Holevo quantity, and hence the mutual information, is at most of order EΔt/ℏ, where E the average energy of the signal, and Δt is the amount of time for which detectors operate. The bound does not depend on the size or mass of the emitting and receiving systems, nor on the nature of the signal. No restrictions on preparing and processing the signal are imposed.

As an example, I consider the encoding of information in the transverse or angular position of a signal emitted and received by systems of arbitrarily large cross-section. In the limit of a large message space, quantum effects become important even if individual signals are classical, and the bound is upheld.