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Because a quantum measurement generally disturbs the state of a quantum system, one might think that it should not be possible for a sender and receiver to communicate reliably when the receiver performs a large number of sequential measurements to determine the message of the sender.We show here that this intuition is not true, by demonstrating that a sequential decoding strategy works well even in the most general 'one-shot' regime, where we are given a single instance of a channel and wish to determine the maximal number of bits that can be communicated up to a small failure probability. This result follows by generalizing a non-commutative union bound to apply for a sequence of general measurements. We also demonstrate two ways in which a receiver can recover a state close to the original state after it has been decoded by a sequence of measurements that each succeed with high probability. The second of these methods will be useful in realizing an efficient decoder for fully quantum polar codes, should a method ever be found to realize an efficient decoder for classical-quantum polar codes. © 2013 The Authors.

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Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences