Emergent locality in systems with power-law interactions

David J. Luitz, Yevgeny Bar Lev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Locality imposes stringent constraints on the spreading of information in nonrelativistic quantum systems, which is reminiscent of a "light cone," a causal structure arising in their relativistic counterparts. Long-range interactions can potentially soften such constraints, allowing almost instantaneous long jumps of particles, into the "spacelike" region, thus defying causality. Since interactions decaying as a power law with distance r-α are ubiquitous in nature, it is pertinent to understand what is the fate of causality and information spreading in such systems. Using a numerically exact technique we address these questions by studying the out-of-time-order correlation function of a representative generic system in one dimension. We show that while the interactions are long range, their effect on information spreading is asymptotically negligible as long as α>1. In this range we find a complex compound behavior, where, after a short transient, a fully local behavior emerges, yielding asymptotic light cones virtually indistinguishable from light cones in corresponding local models. The long-range nature of the interaction is only expressed in the power-law leaking of information from the light cone, with the same exponent as the exponent of the interaction α. Our results directly apply also to corresponding response functions and suggest that previously obtained rigorous bounds on information spreading in long-range interacting systems are not tight, and could be potentially improved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number010105
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number1
StatePublished - 30 Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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