Degradable quantum channels are an important class of completely positive trace-preserving maps. Among other properties, they offer a single-letter formula for the quantum and the private classical capacity and are characterized by the fact that a complementary channel can be obtained from the channel by applying a degrading channel. In this paper, we introduce the concept of approximate degradable channels, which satisfy this condition up to some finite epsilon {\textgreater}= 0. That is, there exists a degrading channel which upon composition with the channel is e-close in the diamond norm to the complementary channel. We show that for any fixed channel the smallest such e can be efficiently determined via a semidefinite program. Moreover, these approximate degradable channels also approximately inherit all other properties of degradable channels. As an application, we derive improved upper bounds to the quantum and private classical capacity for certain channels of interest in quantum communication.

%B IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INFORMATION THEORY %V 63 %P 7832–7844 %8 dec %R 10.1109/TIT.2017.2754268