This series consists of talks in the area of Foundations of Quantum Theory. Seminar and group meetings will alternate.
In the study of closed quantum system, the simple harmonic oscillator is ubiquitous because all smooth potentials look quadratic locally, and exhaustively understanding it is very valuable because it is exactly solvable. Although not widely appreciated, Markovian quantum Brownian motion (QBM) plays almost exactly the same role in the study of open quantum systems. QBM is ubiquitous because it arises from only the Markov assumption and linear Lindblad operators, and it likewise has an elegant and transparent exact solution.
In the de Broglie-Bohm pilot-wave formulation of quantum theory, standard quantum probabilities arise spontaneously through a process of dynamical relaxation that is broadly similar to thermal relaxation in classical physics. If we are to regard this process as the cause of the quantum probabilities we observe today, then we must infer a primordial ‘quantum nonequilibrium’ in the remote past.
Our physical theories often admit multiple formulations or variants. Although these variants are generally empirically indistinguishable, they nonetheless appear to represent the world as having different structures. In this talk, I will discuss several criteria for comparing empirically equivalent theories that may be used to identify (1) when one variant has more structure than another (i.e., when a formulation of a theory has “excess structure”) and (2) when two variants are theoretically equivalent, even though they appear to represent the world differently.
Bell inequalities bound the strength of classical correlations arising between outcomes of measurements performed on subsystems of a shared physical system. The ability of quantum theory to violate Bell inequalities has been intensively studied for several decades. Recently, there has been an increased interest in studying physical correlations beyond the scenario of Bell inequalities, to more general network structures involving many sources of physical states and observers that may be measuring on subsystems of independent states.
Quantum theory can be understood as a theory of information processing in the circuit framework for operational probabilistic theories. This approach presupposes a definite casual structure as well as a preferred time direction. But in general relativity, the causal structure of space-time is dynamical and not predefined, which indicates that a quantum theory that could incorporate gravity requires a more general operational paradigm. In this talk, I will describe recent progress in this direction.
I distinguish two types of reduction within the context of quantum-classical relations, which I designate “formal” and “empirical”. Formal reduction holds or fails to hold solely by virtue of the mathematical relationship between two theories; it is therefore a two-place, a priori relation between theories. Empirical reduction requires one theory to encompass the range of physical behaviors that are well-modeled in another theory; in a certain sense, it is a three-place, a posteriori relation connecting the theories and the domain of physical reality that both serve to describe.
The discovery of postquantum nonlocality, i.e. the existence of nonlocal correlations stronger than any quantum correlations but nevertheless consistent with the no-signaling principle, has deepened our understanding of the foundations quantum theory. In this work, we investigate whether the phenomenon of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen steering, a different form of quantum nonlocality, can also be generalized beyond quantum theory. While postquantum steering does not exist in the bipartite case, we prove its existence in the case of three observers.
In this talk, I will discuss correlations that can be generated by performing local measurements on bipartite quantum systems. I'll present an algebraic characterization of the set of quantum correlations which allows us to identify an easy-to-compute lower bound on the smallest Hilbert space dimension needed to generate a quantum correlation. I will then discuss some examples showing the tightness of our lower bound.
How may we quantify the value of physical resources, such as entangled quantum states, heat baths or lasers? Existing resource theories give us partial answers; however, these rely on idealizations, like the concept of perfectly independent copies of states used to derive conversion rates. As these idealizations are impossible to implement in practice, such results may be of little consequence for experimentalists.
One implication of Bell's theorem is that there cannot in general be hidden variable models for quantum mechanics that both are noncontextual and retain the structure of a classical probability space. Thus, some hidden variable programs aim to retain noncontextuality at the cost of using a generalization of the Kolmogorov probability axioms. We present a theorem to show that such programs are committed to the existence of a finite null cover for some quantum mechanical experiments, i.e., a finite collection of probability zero events whose disjunction exhausts the space of possibilities.