The Wigner quasiprobability distribution (also called the Wigner function or the Wigner–Ville distribution after Eugene Wigner and Jean-André Ville) is a quasiprobability distribution. It was introduced by Eugene Wigner in 1932 to study quantum corrections to classical statistical mechanics. The goal was to link the wavefunction that appears in Schrödinger's equation to a probability distribution in phase space.
It is a generating function for all spatial autocorrelation functions of a given quantum-mechanical wavefunction ψ(x). Thus, it maps on the quantum density matrix in the map between real phase-space functions and Hermitian operators introduced by Hermann Weyl in 1927, in a context related to representation theory in mathematics (cf. Weyl quantization in physics). In effect, it is the Weyl–Wigner transform of the density matrix, so the realization of that operator in phase space. It was later rederived by Jean Ville in 1948 as a quadratic (in signal) representation of the local time-frequency energy of a signal, effectively a spectrogram.
In 1949, José Enrique Moyal, who had derived it independently, recognized it as the quantum moment-generating functional, and thus as the basis of an elegant encoding of all quantum expectation values, and hence quantum mechanics, in phase space (cf. phase space formulation). It has applications in statistical mechanics, quantum chemistry, quantum optics, classical optics and signal analysis in diverse fields such as electrical engineering, seismology, time–frequency analysis for music signals, spectrograms in biology and speech processing, and engine design.
Read more about Wigner Quasiprobability Distribution: Relation To Classical Mechanics, Definition and Meaning, Mathematical Properties, Evolution Equation For Wigner Function, Classical Limit, The Wigner Function in Relation To Other Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics, Uses of The Wigner Function Outside Quantum Mechanics, Measurements of The Wigner Function, Other Related Quasiprobability Distributions, Historical Note
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