Quantum feedback control is the control of the dynamics of a quantum system by feeding back (in real time) the results of monitoring that system. For systems with linear dynamics, the control problem is amenable to exact analysis. In these cases, the quantum system is equivalent to a stochastic system of classical phase-space variables with linear drift and constant diffusion, and with a measured current (e.g. a homodyne photocurrent) linear in the system variables. However, the classical evolution is constrained in order to represent valid quantum evolution. We quantify this in terms of a linear matrix inequality (LMI) relating the drift and diffusion (a sort of zero temperature fluctuation-dissipation theorem), and another LMI for the covariance matrix of the possible conditioned states (i.e. under all possible monitoring schemes consistent with the master equation). For manipulable systems (i.e. where the experimenter has arbitrary control over the parameters in a Hamiltonian linear in the system variables) the covariance of the conditioned state is all that is needed to calculate the effectiveness of the feedback. In this case the double optimization problem reduces to a semidefinite program, which can be solved efficiently in general. We illustrate this with an example drawn from quantum optics.
In many optical and atomic systems it is now possible to monitor an
individual quantum system with high signal to noise and feed back by
altering the system dynamics in real time. This motivates further development of quantum mechanical descriptions of feedback control. We discuss recent work on closed loop control of open quantum systems, focusing on general linear systems for which the statistics of the problem are Gaussian. Such systems may be realized with linear optics, parametric amplifiers and homodyne detection. This problem allows a direct comparison with the classical linear, quadratic cost, Gaussian noise (LQG) optimal control problem. This highlights the key distinction between the quantum and classical theories for linear systems: that increased measurement sensitivity may run counter to the control objectives since it increases the
backaction noise. While in an idealized classical control problem it
is always preferable to obtain a better sensor, quantum mechanical
problems generically have an optimal sensitivity since quantum
mechanical measurements irreducibly disturb the system. The general
theory will be illustrated by reference to specific simple examples.