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  1. Abstract

    We study quantum decoherence numerically in a system consisting of a relativistic quantum field theory coupled to a measuring device that is itself coupled to an environment. The measuring device and environment are treated as quantum, non-relativistic particles. We solve the Schrödinger equation for the wave function of this tripartite system using exact diagonalization. Although computational limitations on the size of the Hilbert space prevent us from exploring the regime where the device and environment consist of a truly macroscopic number of degrees of freedom, we nevertheless see clear evidence of decoherence: after tracing out the environment, the density matrix describing the system and measuring device evolves quickly towards a matrix that is close to diagonal in a subspace of pointer states. We measure the speed with which decoherence spreads in the relativistic quantum field theory for a range of parameters. We find that it is less than the speed of light but faster than the speed of the massive charges in the initial state.

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