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# Quantifying information via Shannon entropy in spatially structured optical beams

preprint

posted on 2023-11-30, 20:58 authored by Maria Solyanik-Gorgone, Jiachi Ye, Mario Miscuglio, Andrei Afanasev, Alan Willner, Volker J. SorgerWhile information is ubiquitously generated, shared, and analyzed in a modern-day life, there is still some controversy around the ways to asses the amount and quality of information inside a noisy optical channel. A number of theoretical approaches based on, e.g., conditional Shannon entropy and Fisher information have been developed, along with some experimental validations. Some of these approaches are limited to a certain alphabet, while others tend to fall short when considering optical beams with non-trivial structure, such as Hermite-Gauss, Laguerre-Gauss and other modes with non-trivial structure. Here, we propose a new definition of classical Shannon information via the Wigner distribution function, while respecting the Heisenberg inequality. Following this definition, we calculate the amount of information in a Gaussian, Hermite-Gaussian, and Laguerre-Gaussian laser modes in juxtaposition and experimentally validate it by reconstruction of the Wigner distribution function from the intensity distribution of structured laser beams. We experimentally demonstrate the technique that allows to infer field structure of the laser beams in singular optics to assess the amount of contained information. Given the generality, this approach of defining information via analyzing the beam complexity is applicable to laser modes of any topology that can be described by 'well-behaved' functions. Classical Shannon information defined in this way is detached from a particular alphabet, i.e. communication scheme, and scales with the structural complexity of the system. Such a synergy between the Wigner distribution function encompassing the information in both real and reciprocal space, and information being a measure of disorder, can contribute into future coherent detection algorithms and remote sensing.