By Cillian Harney, Leonardo Banchi & Stefano Pirandola.
Submitted to arXiv on 21 October 2020.
Quantum Channel Discrimination (QCD) presents a fundamental task in quantum information theory, with critical applications in quantum reading, illumination, data-readout and more. The extension to multiple quantum channel discrimination has seen a recent focus to characterise potential quantum advantage associated with quantum enhanced discriminatory protocols. In this paper, we study thermal imaging as an environment localisation task, in which thermal images are modelled as ensembles of Gaussian phase insensitive channels with identical transmissivity, and pixels possess properties according to background (cold) or target (warm) thermal channels. Via the teleportation stretching of adaptive quantum protocols, we derive ultimate limits on the precision of pattern classification of abstract, binary thermal image spaces, and show that quantum enhanced strategies may be used to provide significant quantum advantage over known optimal classical strategies. The environmental conditions and necessary resources for which advantage may be obtained are studied and discussed. We then numerically investigate the use of quantum enhanced statistical classifiers, in which quantum sensors are used in conjunction with machine learning image classification methods. Proving definitive advantage in the low loss regime, this work motivates the use of quantum enhanced sources for short-range thermal imaging and detection techniques for future quantum technologies.