Quantum speed limits: from Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle to optimal quantum control
One of the most widely known building blocks of modern physics is Heisenberg’s indeterminacy principle. Among the different statements of this fundamental property of the full quantum mechanical nature of physical reality, the uncertainty relation for energy and time has a special place. Its interpretation and its consequences have inspired continued research efforts for almost a century. In its modern formulation, the uncertainty relation is understood as setting a fundamental bound on how fast any quantum system can evolve. In this Colloquium we will discuss important milestones, such as the Mandelstam-Tamm and the Margolus-Levitin bounds on the quantum speed limit, and summarize recent applications in a variety of current research fields — including quantum information theory, quantum computing, and quantum thermodynamics amongst several others. To bring order and to provide an access point into the many different notions and concepts, we will group the various approaches into the minimal time approach and the geometric approach, where the former relies on quantum control theory, and the latter arises from measuring the distinguishability of quantum states.