Operator spreading in the memory matrix formalism

Ewan McCulloch, C. W. Von Keyserlingk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The spread and scrambling of quantum information is a topic of considerable current interest. Numerous studies suggest that quantum information evolves according to hydrodynamical equations of motion, even though it is a starkly different quantity to better-known hydrodynamical variables such as charge and energy. In this work we show that the well-known memory matrix formalism for traditional hydrodynamics can be applied, with relatively little modification, to the question of operator growth in many-body quantum systems. On a conceptual level, this shores up the connection between information scrambling and hydrodynamics. At a practical level, it provides a framework for calculating quantities related to operator growth like the butterfly velocity and front diffusion constant, and for understanding how these quantities are constrained by microscopic symmetries. We apply this formalism to calculate operator-hydrodynamical coefficients perturbatively in a family of Floquet models. Our formalism allows us to identify the processes affecting information transport that arise from the spatiotemporal symmetries of the model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number274007
JournalJournal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2022


  • Floquet
  • hydrodynamics
  • memory matrix
  • operator spreading
  • scrambling
  • thermalisation


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