Quantum information theory, applied to optical interferometry, yields a 1/n scaling of phase uncertainty Delta phi independent of the applied phase shift phi, where n is the number of photons in the interferometer. This 1/n scaling is achieved provided that the output state is subjected to an optimal phase measurement. We establish this scaling law for both passive (linear) and active (nonlinear) interferometers and identify the coefficient of proportionality. Whereas a highly nonclassical state is required to achieve optimal scaling for passive interferometry, a classical input state yields a 1/n scaling of phase uncertainty for active interferometry.
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