Equilibration time scales in closed many-body systems
We show that the physical mechanism for the equilibration of closed quantum systems is dephasing, and identify the energy scales that determine the equilibration timescale of a given observable. For realistic physical systems (e.g those with local Hamiltonians), our arguments imply timescales that do not increase with the system size, in contrast to previously known upper bounds. In particular, we show that, for such Hamiltonians, the matrix representation of local observables in the energy basis is banded, and that this property is crucial in order to derive equilibration times that are non-negligible in macroscopic systems. Finally, we give an intuitive interpretation to recent theorems on equilibration time-scales.