Randomness is a valuable resource in science, cryptography, engineering, and information technology. Quantum-mechanical sources of randomness are attractive because of the indeterminism of individual quantum processes. Here, we consider the production of random bits from polarization measurements on photons. We first present a pedagogical discussion of how the quantum randomness inherent in such measurements is connected to quantum coherence, and how it can be quantified in terms of the quantum state and an associated entropy value known as min-entropy. We then explore these concepts by performing a series of single-photon experiments that are suitable for the undergraduate laboratory. We prepare photons in different nonentangled and entangled states, and measure these states tomographically. We use the information about the quantum state to determine, in terms of the min-entropy, the minimum amount of randomness produced from a given photon state by different bit-generating measurements. This is helpful in assessing the presence of quantum randomness and in ensuring the quality and security of the random-bit source.

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