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- Towards new foundations of quantum theory from first principles and from quantum field theory

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15050097

As is well known, time plays a special role in the standard formulation of quantum theory, bringing the latter into severe conflict with the principles of general relativity. This suggests the existence of a more fundamental and (as it turns out) covariant and timeless formulation of quantum theory. A conservative way to look for such a formulation would be to start from quantum theory as we know it, taken in its experimentally most successful form of quantum field theory, and try to uncover structure in the formalism made for actual physical predictions. A radical way to look for such a formulation would be to forget the standard formulation, take only a few first principles (locality and operationalism turn out to be good ones) and try to construct things from there. Remarkably, approaches following these apparently opposite paths have recently been shown to converge in a single framework. In this talk I want to provide an overview of the current understanding of the resulting "positive formalism", its implications, and the paths that led to it. This includes relations to works of Witten and Segal in mathematical physics and of Aharonov, Hardy and others in quantum foundations.

©2012 Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics