This series consists of talks in the area of Foundations of Quantum Theory. Seminar and group meetings will alternate.
The distinction between a realist interpretation of quantum theory that is psi-ontic and one that is psi-epistemic is whether or not a difference in the quantum state necessarily implies a difference in the underlying ontic state. Psi-ontologists believe that it does, psi-epistemicists that it does not. This talk will address the question of whether the PBR theorem should be interpreted as lending evidence against the psi-epistemic research program.
It is sometimes pointed out as a curiosity that the state space of quantum theory and actual physical space seem related in a surprising way: not only is space three-dimensional and Euclidean, but so is the Bloch ball which describes quantum two-level systems. In the talk, I report on joint work with Lluis Masanes, where we show how this observation can be turned into a mathematical result: suppose that physics takes place in d spatial dimensions, and that some events happen probabilistically (dropping quantum theory and complex amplitudes altogether).
One of the most important open problems in physics is to reconcile quantum mechanics with our classical intuition. In this talk we look at quantum foundations through the lens of mathematical foundations and uncover a deep connection between the two fields. We show that Cantorian set theory is based on classical concepts incompatible with quantum experiments. Specifically, we prove that Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms of set theory (and the background classical logic) imply a Bell-type inequality.
I present our work on inferring causality in the classical world and encourage the audience to think about possible generalizations to the quantum world. Statistical dependences between observed quantities X and Y indicate a causal relation, but it is a priori not clear whether X caused Y or Y caused X or there is a common cause of both. It is widely believed that this can only be decided if either one is able to do interventions on the system, or if X and Y are part of a larger set of variables.
In the de Broglie-Bohm pilot-wave theory, an ensemble of fermions is not only described by a spinor, but also by a distribution of position beables. If the distribution of positions is different from the one predicted by the Born rule, the ensemble is said to be in quantum non-equilibrium. Such ensembles, which can lead to an experimental discrimination between the pilot-wave theory and standard quantum mechanics, are thought to quickly relax to quantum equilibrium in most cases.
This talk presents two results on the interplay between causality and quantum information flow. First I will discuss about the task of switching the connections among quantum gates in a network. In ordinary quantum circuits, gates are connected in a fixed causal sequence. However, we can imagine a physical mechanism where the connections among gates are not fixed, but instead are controlled by the quantum state of a control system.
The standard approach to quantum nonlocality (Bell's Theorem) relies on the assumption of the existence of "free will". I will explain how to get rid of this mysterious assumption in favor of the independence of sources. From this new point of view, Bell's Theorem becomes a statement about Bayesian networks. Besides allowing a more intuitive formulation of the standard result, our formalism also provides new network topologies giving rise to new kinds of nonlocality. Some of these relate to results by Steudel and Ay on the statistical inference of causal relations.