Entanglement as an axiomatic foundation for statistical mechanics
Giulio Chiribella and Carlo Maria Scandolo
We propose four information-theoretic axioms for the foundations of statistical mechanics in general physical theories. The axioms—Causality, Purity Preservation, Pure Sharpness, and Purification—identify a class of theories where every mixed state can be modelled as the marginal of a pure entangled state and where every unsharp measurement can be modelled as a sharp measurement on a composite system. This class includes quantum theory and a number of alternative theories, such as quantum theory with real amplitudes, as well as a suitable extension of classical probability theory where classical systems can be combined with other non-classical systems. Theories satisfying our axioms support well-behaved notions of majorization, entropy, and Gibbs states, allowing for an information-theoretic derivation of Landauer's principle.