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Communication over a noisy channel is often conducted in a setting in which different input symbols to the channel incur a certain cost. For example, for bosonic quantum channels, the cost associated with an input state is the number of photons, which is proportional to the energy consumed. In such a setting, it is often useful to know the maximum amount of information that can be reliably transmitted per cost incurred. This is known as the capacity per unit cost. In this paper, we generalize the capacity per unit cost to various communication tasks involving a quantum channel, such as classical communication, entanglement-assisted classical communication, private communication, and quantum communication. For each task, we define the corresponding capacity per unit cost and derive a formula for it analogous to that of the usual capacity. Furthermore, for the special and natural cases in which there is a zero-cost state, we obtain expressions in terms of an optimized relative entropy involving the zero-cost state. For each communication task, we construct an explicit pulse-position-modulation coding scheme that achieves the capacity per unit cost. Finally, we compute capacities per unit cost for various bosonic Gaussian channels and introduce the notion of a blocklength constraint as a proposed solution to the long-standing issue of infinite capacities per unit cost. This motivates the idea of a blocklength-cost duality on which we elaborate in depth.

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IEEE Transactions on Information Theory

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