On the epistemic view: Strengths and weakneses of Spekkens’ toy theory

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We investigate the strengths and weaknesses of the Spekkens toy model for quantum states. We axiomatize the Spekkens toy model into a set of five axioms, regarding valid states, transformations, measurements and composition of systems. We present two relaxations of the Spekkens toy model, giving rise to two variant toy theories. By relaxing the axiom regarding valid transformations a group of toy operations is obtained that is equivalent to the projective extended Clifford Group for one and two qubits. However, the physical state of affairs resulting from this relaxation is undesirable, violating the desideratum that single toy bit operations must compose under the tensor product. The second variant toy theory is obtained by relaxing the axioms regarding valid states and measurements, resulting in a toy model that exhibits the Kochen-Specker property. Like the previous toy model, the relaxation renders the toy model physically undesirable. Therefore, we claim that the Spekkens toy model is optimal; altering its axioms does not yield a better epistemic description of quantum theory. This work is a collaboration with Gilad Gour, Aidan Roy and Barry C. Sanders.