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In mathematics and the foundations of quantum mechanics, the **projective Hilbert space** or **ray space** of a complex Hilbert space is the set of equivalence classes of non-zero vectors , for the equivalence relation on given by

- if and only if for some non-zero complex number .

This is the usual construction of projectivization, applied to a complex Hilbert space.^{[1]} In quantum mechanics, the equivalence classes are also referred to as **rays** or **projective rays**.

The physical significance of the projective Hilbert space is that in quantum theory, the wave functions and represent the same *physical state*, for any . The Born rule demands that if the system is physical and measurable, its wave function has unit norm, , in which case it is called a normalized wave function. The unit norm constraint does not completely determine within the ray, since could be multiplied by any with absolute value 1 (the circle group action) and retain its normalization. Such a can be written as with called the global phase.

Rays that differ by such a correspond to the same state (cf. quantum state (algebraic definition), given a C*-algebra of observables and a representation on ). No measurement can recover the phase of a ray; it is not observable. One says that is a gauge group of the first kind.

If is an irreducible representation of the algebra of observables then the rays induce pure states. Convex linear combinations of rays naturally give rise to density matrix which (still in case of an irreducible representation) correspond to mixed states.

In the case is finite-dimensional, i.e., , the Hilbert space reduces to a finite-dimensional inner product space and the set of projective rays may be treated as a complex projective space; it is a homogeneous space for a unitary group . That is,

- ,

which carries a Kähler metric, called the Fubini–Study metric, derived from the Hilbert space's norm.^{[2]}^{[3]}

As such, the projectivization of, e.g., two-dimensional complex Hilbert space (the space describing one qubit) is the complex projective line . This is known as the Bloch sphere or, equivalently, the Riemann sphere. See Hopf fibration for details of the projectivization construction in this case.

The Cartesian product of projective Hilbert spaces is not a projective space. The Segre mapping is an embedding of the Cartesian product of two projective spaces into the projective space associated to the tensor product of the two Hilbert spaces, given by . In quantum theory, it describes how to make states of the composite system from states of its constituents. It is only an embedding, not a surjection; most of the tensor product space does not lie in its range and represents *entangled states*.

- Complex projective space
- Projective representation
- Projective space, for the concept in general

**^**Miranda 1995, p. 94.**^**Kong & Liu 2021, p. 9.**^**Cirelli, Lanzavecchia & Mania 1983.

- Ashtekar, Abhay; Schilling, Troy A. (1999). "Geometrical Formulation of Quantum Mechanics".
*On Einstein's Path*. New York, NY: Springer New York. arXiv:gr-qc/9706069. doi:10.1007/978-1-4612-1422-9_3. ISBN 978-1-4612-7137-6. - Cirelli, R; Lanzavecchia, P; Mania, A (1983). "Normal pure states of the von Neumann algebra of bounded operators as Kahler manifold".
*Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and General*.**16**(16). IOP Publishing: 3829–3835. Bibcode:1983JPhA...16.3829C. doi:10.1088/0305-4470/16/16/020. ISSN 0305-4470. - Kong, Otto C. W.; Liu, Wei-Yin (2021). "Noncommutative Coordinate Picture of the Quantum Phase Space".
*Chinese Journal of Physics*.**71**. Elsevier BV: 418. arXiv:1903.11962. Bibcode:2021ChJPh..71..418K. doi:10.1016/j.cjph.2021.03.014. S2CID 85543324. - Miranda, Rick (1995).
*Algebraic Curves and Riemann Surfaces*. Providence (R.I.): American Mathematical Soc. ISBN 0-8218-0268-2.