Quantum Foundations

This series consists of talks in the area of Foundations of Quantum Theory. Seminar and group meetings will alternate.

Seminar Series Events/Videos

Dec 2 2014 - 3:30pm
Room #: 294
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Tuesday Oct 14, 2014

A persistent mystery of quantum theory is whether it admits an interpretation that is realist, self-consistent, model-independent, and unextravagant in the sense of featuring neither multiple worlds nor pilot waves. In this talk, I will present a new interpretation of quantum theory -- called the minimal modal interpretation (MMI) -- that aims to meet these conditions while also hewing closely to the basic structure of the theory in its widely accepted form.

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Tuesday Oct 07, 2014
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Weak measurement is increasingly acknowledged as an important theoretical and experimental tool. Weak values- the results of weak measurements- are often used to understand seemingly paradoxical quantum behavior. Until now however, it was not known how to perform a weak non-local measurement of a general operator. Such a procedure is necessary if we are to take the associated `weak values' seriously as a physical quantity. We propose a novel scheme for performing non-local weak measurement which is based on the principle of quantum erasure.

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Tuesday Sep 30, 2014
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I will outline a new topological foundation for computation, and show how it gives rise to a unified treatment of classical encryption and quantum teleportation, and a strong classical model for many quantum phenomena. This work connects to some other interesting topics, including quantum field theory, classical combinatorics, thermodynamics, Morse theory and higher category theory, which I will introduce in an elementary way.

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Tuesday Aug 19, 2014
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There has been renewed interest in the effect that pre and postselection has on the foundations of quantum theory. Often, but not solely, in conjunction with weak measurement, pre and postselection scenarios are said to simultaneous create and resolve paradoxes. These paradoxes are said to be profound quandaries which bring us closer to the resolving the mysteries of the quantum. Here I was show that the same effects are present in classical physics when postselection and disturbance are allowed.

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Thursday Jul 17, 2014
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A fundamental question in trying to understand the world -- be it classical or quantum -- is why things happen. We seek a causal account of events, and merely noting correlations between them does not provide a satisfactory answer. Classical statistics provides a better alternative: the framework of causal models proved itself a powerful tool for studying causal relations in a range of disciplines. We aim to adapt this formalism to allow for quantum variables and in the process discover a new perspective on how causality is different in the quantum world.

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Tuesday May 20, 2014
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In this work we develop a formalism for describing localised quanta for a real-valued Klein-Gordon field in a one-dimensional box [0, R]. We quantise the field using non-stationary local modes which, at some arbitrarily chosen initial time, are completely localised within the left or the right side of the box. In this concrete set-up we directly face the problems inherent to a notion of local field excitations, usually thought of as elementary particles.

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Friday May 02, 2014
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Consider discrete physics with a minimal time step taken to be
tau. A time series of positions q,q',q'', ... has two classical
observables: position (q) and velocity (q'-q)/tau. They do not commute,
for observing position does not force the clock to tick, but observing
velocity does force the clock to tick. Thus if VQ denotes first observe
position, then observe velocity and QV denotes first observe velocity,
then observe position, we have
VQ: (q'-q)q/tau
QV: q'(q'-q)/tau

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Tuesday Apr 15, 2014
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The start of the talk will be an outline how the ordinary notions of quantum theory translate into the category of C*-algebras, where there are several possible choices of morphisms. The second half will relate this to a category of convex sets used as state spaces. Alfsen and Shultz have characterized the convex sets arising from state spaces C*-algebras and this result can be applied to get a categorical equivalence between C*-algebras and state spaces of C*-algebras which is a generalization of the equivalence between the Schroedinger and Heisenberg pictures.

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Tuesday Apr 08, 2014
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There is now a remarkable mathematical theory of causation. But applying this theory to a Bell scenario implies the Bell inequalities, which are violated in experiment. We alleviate this tension by translating the basic definitions of the theory into the framework of generalised probabilistic theories. We find that a surprising number of results carry over: the d-separation criterion for conditional independence (the no-signalling principle on steroids), and even certain quantitative limits on correlations.

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Tuesday Apr 01, 2014

We introduce a new way of quantifying the degrees of incompatibility of two observables in a probabilistic physical theory and, based on this, a global measure of the degree of incompatibility inherent in such theories. This opens up a flexible way of comparing probabilistic theories with respect to the nonclassical feature of incompatibility. We show that quantum theory contains observables that are as incompatible as any probabilistic physical theory can have.

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