- Home »
- Robert Spekkens

Robert Spekkens received his B.Sc. in physics and philosophy from McGill University and completed his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Toronto. He held a postdoctoral fellowship at Perimeter Institute and an International Royal Society Fellowship at the University of Cambridge. He has been a faculty member at Perimeter Institute since November 2008. His research is focused upon identifying the conceptual innovations that distinguish quantum theories from classical theories and investigating their significance for axiomatization, interpretation, and the implementation of various information-theoretic tasks.

Adjunct faculty, Department of Physics, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada

Adjunct Reserach Fellow, Centre for Quantum Dynamics, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

PhD students who wish to be supervised by Perimeter Institute faculty normally apply through the __PSI program__. To apply directly to a PhD program, students should submit an application to the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Waterloo.

Students interested in pursuing an MSc degree should apply to Perimeter Institute's __PSI program__.

E. T. Jaynes famously described quantum theory as an omelette of epistemological and ontological elements, all scrambled up in a way that no one has yet seen how to unscramble. The focus of my research program is to try and unscramble this omelette. In particular, I am pursuing the idea that quantum states are representations of an agent's incomplete knowledge of a system and that much of the formalism of quantum theory is best understood as a theory of Bayesian inference, with quantum collapse being in part a form of Bayesian updating. On the more practical side, I have been working on quantum resource theories, in particular, the resource theories of quantum states that break symmetry and quantum states that are out of thermal equilibrium.

- Adjunct research faculty, Centre for Quantum Dynamics, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
- Adjunct faculty, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo
- 1/2006 - 10/2008. Royal Society International Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
- 1/2003 - 1/2006. Postdoctoral fellow at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

- First prize winner of the 2012 FQXI Essay contest "Questioning the Foundations: Which of Our Assumptions Are Wrong?" for my essay "The Paradigm of Kinematics and Dynamics Must Yield to Causal Structure"
- Winner of the 2008 Birkhoff-von Neumann Prize of the International Quantum Structures Association.

- F. G. S. L. Brandão, M. Horodecki, J. Oppenheim, J. M. Renes, R. W. Spekkens, The Resource Theory of Quantum States Out of Thermal Equilibrium, (in press), arXiv: 1111.3882 (quant-ph)
- I. Marvian and R. W. Spekkens, The theory of manipulations of pure state asymmetry: basic tools and equivalence classes of states under symmetric operations, New J. Phys. 15, 033001 (2013), arXiv: 1104.0018 [quant-ph]
- S. D. Bartlett, T. Rudolph, R. W. Spekkens, Reconstruction of Gaussian quantum mechanics from Liouville mechanics with an epistemic restriction, Phys. Rev. A 86, 012103 (2012) arXiv: 1111.5057 (quant-ph)
- B. Coecke, R. W. Spekkens, Picturing classical and quantum Bayesian inference, Synthese 186, 651 (2012), arXiv: 1102.2368 (quant-ph)
- Y.-C. Liang, R. W. Spekkens, H. M. Wiseman , Specker's Parable of the Over-protective Seer: A Road to Contextuality, Nonlocality and Complementarity, Physics Reports 506, 1-39 (2011), arXiv: 1010.1273 (quant-ph)
- B. Coecke, B. Edwards, R. W. Spekkens, Phase groups and the origin of non-locality for qubits, Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science 270, 15 (2011), arXiv: 1003.5005 (quant-ph)
- L. Hardy and R. Spekkens, Why Physics Needs Quantum Foundations, Physics in Canada 66 (2), 73-76 (2010), arXiv: 1003.5008 (quant-ph)
- Nicholas Harrigan and Robert W. Spekkens, Einstein, incompleteness, and the epistemic view of quantum states, Found. Phys. 40, 125 (2010), arXiv: 0706.2661 (quant-ph)
- H. Barnum, J. Barrett, L. O. Clark, M. Leifer , R. Spekkens, N. Stepanik, A. Wilce and R. Wilke, Entropy and information causality in general probabilistic theories, New J. Phys. 12, 033024 (2010), arXiv: 0909.5075 (quant-ph)
- Gilad Gour, Iman Marvian, Robert W. Spekkens, Measuring the quality of a quantum reference frame: the relative entropy of frameness, Phys. Rev. A 80, 012307 (2009), arXiv: 0901.0943
- Stephen D. Bartlett, Terry Rudolph, Robert W. Spekkens, Peter S. Turner, Quantum communication using a bounded-size quantum reference frame, New J. Phys. 11, 063013 (2009), arXiv: 0812.5040
- Robert W. Spekkens, D. H. Buzacott, A. J. Keehn, Ben Toner, G. J. Pryde, Preparation contextuality powers parity-oblivious multiplexing, Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 010401 (2009), arXiv: 0805.1463
- Dennis Kretschmann, David W. Kribs, Robert W. Spekkens, Complementarity of Private and Correctable Subsystems in Quantum Cryptography and Error Correction, Phys. Rev. A 78, 032330 (2008), arXiv: 0711.3438
- Gilad Gour, Robert W. Spekkens, The resource theory of quantum reference frames: manipulations and monotones, New J. Phys. 10 (2008) 033023, arXiv: 0711.0043
- Robert W. Spekkens, Negativity and contextuality are equivalent notions of nonclassicality, Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 020401 (2008), arXiv: 0710.5549
- Robert W. Spekkens, H. M. Wiseman, Pooling quantum states obtained by indirect measurements, Phys. Rev. A 75, 042104 (2007), arXiv: quant-ph/0612190
- Stephen D. Bartlett, Terry Rudolph, Robert W. Spekkens, Reference frames, superselection rules, and quantum information, Rev. Mod. Phys. 79, 555 (2007), arXiv: quant-ph/0610030
- David W. Kribs, Robert W. Spekkens, Quantum Error Correcting Subsystems are Unitarily Recoverable Subsystems, Phys. Rev. A 74, 042329 (2006), arXiv: quant-ph/0608045
- Mark R. Dowling, Stephen D. Bartlett, Terry Rudolph, Robert W. Spekkens, How to observe a coherent superposition of an atom and a molecule, Phys. Rev. A, 74, 052113 (2006), arXiv: quant-ph/0606128
- Stephen D. Bartlett, Terry Rudolph, Robert W. Spekkens, Peter S. Turner, Degradation of a quantum reference frame, New J. Phys. 8, 58 (2006), arxiv:quant-ph/602069
- Gilad Gour, Robert W. Spekkens, Entanglement of Assistance is not a bipartite measure nor a tripartite monotone, Phys. Rev. A 73, 062331 (2006), arxiv:quant-ph/512139
- Stephen D. Bartlett, Terry Rudolph, Robert W. Spekkens, Dialogue Concerning Two Views on Quantum Coherence: Factist and Fictionist, International Journal of Quantum Information, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2006) 17-43, arxiv:quant-ph/507214
- Stephen D. Bartlett, Patrick Hayden, Robert W. Spekkens, Random subspaces for encryption based on a private shared Cartesian frame, Phys. Rev. A, 72, 052329 (2005), arxiv:quant-ph/506260
- M. S. Leifer, R. W. Spekkens, Logical Pre- and Post-Selection paradoxes, measurement-disturbance and contextuality, Proceedings of QS 2004, Int. J. Theor. Phys. 44:1977-1987 (2005), arxiv:quant-ph/412179
- M. S. Leifer, R. W. Spekkens, Pre- and Post-selection paradoxes and contextuality in quantum mechanics, Phys. Rev. Lett. 95, 200405 (2005), arxiv:quant-ph/412178
- Stephen D. Bartlett, Andrew C. Doherty, Robert W. Spekkens, H. M. Wiseman, Entanglement under restricted operations: Analogy to mixed-state entanglement, Phys. Rev. A, 73, 022311 (2006), arxiv:quant-ph/412158
- R. W. Spekkens, Contextuality for preparations, transformations, and unsharp measurements, Phys. Rev. A 71, 052108 (2005), arxiv:quant-ph/406166
- Stephen D. Bartlett, Terry Rudolph, Robert W. Spekkens, Decoherence-full subsystems and the cryptographic power of a private shared reference frame, Phys. Rev. A 70, 032307 (2004), arxiv:quant-ph/403161
- Robert W. Spekkens, Evidence for the epistemic view of quantum states: a toy theory, Phys. Rev. A 75, 032110 (2007), arxiv:quant-ph/401052
- Stephen D. Bartlett, Terry Rudolph, Robert W. Spekkens, Optimal measurements for relative quantum information, Phys. Rev. A 70, 032321 (2004), arxiv:quant-ph/310009
- J.-C. Boileau, D. Gottesman, R. Laflamme, D. Poulin, R.W. Spekkens, Robust polarization-based quantum key distribution over collective-noise channel, Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 17901 (2004), arxiv:quant-ph/306199
- Terry Rudolph, Robert W. Spekkens, Peter Shipley Turner, Unambiguous discrimination of mixed states, Phys. Rev. A 68, 010301(R) (2003), arxiv:quant-ph/303071
- Stephen D. Bartlett, Terry Rudolph, R. W. Spekkens, Classical and quantum communication without a shared reference frame, Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 027901 (2003), arxiv:quant-ph/302111
- R. W. Spekkens, Terry Rudolph, A quantum protocol for cheat-sensitive weak coin flipping, Phys. Rev. Lett. vol 89, 227901 (2002), arXiv: quant-ph/0202118
- R. W. Spekkens, T. Rudolph, Optimization of coherent attacks in generalizations of the BB84 quantum bit commitment protocol, Quantum Inform. Compu. 2, 66 (2002), arXiv: quant-ph/0107042
- R. W. Spekkens, T. Rudolph, Degrees of concealment and bindingness in quantum bit commitment protocols, Phys. Rev. A 65, 012310 (2001), arXiv: quant-ph/0106019
- R. W. Spekkens, J. E. Sipe, Non-Orthogonal Core Projectors for Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics, Found. Phys. 31, 1403 (2001), arXiv: quant-ph/0003092
- R. W. Spekkens, J. E. Sipe, A Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics Based on a Principle of Entropy Minimization, Found. Phys. 31, 1431 (2001), arXiv: quant-ph/0003092
- R. W. Spekkens, J. E. Sipe, Spatial fragmentation of a Bose-Einstein condensate in a double-well potential, Phys. Rev. A 59, 3868 (1999), arXiv: quant-ph/9810094
- I. Marvian and R. W. Spekkens, An information-theoretic account of the Wigner-Araki-Yanase theorem, arXiv: 1212.3378 (quant-ph)
- R. W. Spekkens, The paradigm of kinematics and dynamics must yield to causal structure, published online at www.fqxi.org, arXiv: 1209.0023 [quant-ph]
- C. J. Wood, R. W. Spekkens, The lesson of causal discovery algorithms for quantum correlations: Causal explanations of Bell-inequality violations require fine-tuning, arXiv: 1208.4119 (quant-ph)
- I. Marvian and R. W. Spekkens, A generalization of Schur-Weyl duality with applications in quantum estimation, arXiv: 1112.0638 (quant-ph)
- M. S. Leifer and Robert W. Spekkens, A Bayesian approach to compatibility, improvement, and pooling of quantum states, arXiv: 1110.1085 (quant-ph)
- M. S. Leifer, R. W. Spekkens, Formulating Quantum Theory as a Causally Neutral Theory of Bayesian Inference, arXiv: 1107.5849 (quant-ph)
- I. Marvian and R. W. Spekkens, Pure state asymmetry, arXiv: 1105.1816 (quant-ph)
- J. Oppenheim, R. W. Spekkens, A. Winter, A classical analogue of negative information, arxiv:quant-ph/511247

- On causal explanations of quantum correlations, QI seminar, Max Planck Institute for quantum optics, Garching, Germany
- On causal explanations of quantum correlations (plenary speaker), 17th UK and European Meeting on the Foundations of Physics, Munich, Germany
- If Correlation Doesn"t Imply Causation, What Does? Workshop on Causal Structure in Quantum Theory, Benasque, Spain
- On causal explanations of quantum correlations (invited speaker), Quantum Information and Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, UBC, Vancouver, Canada
- On causal explanations of quantum correlations (invited speaker), workshop for EU funded quantum projects DIQIP, QALGO and QCS, LARSIM, Paris, France
- On causal explanations of quantum correlations, seminar ETH Zurich, Switzerland
- Lecture course on quantum contextuality, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
- Formulating quantum theory as a causally neutral theory of Bayesian inference, Asia-Pacific Conference and Workshop on Quantum Information Science, Putrajaya, Malaysia
- Quantum correlations from the perspective of causal discovery algorithms, Q+ seminar, online seminar series on quantum information and quantum foundations, streamed live, recorded version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcIA-yRVze0
- Formulating quantum theory as a causally neutral theory of Bayesian inference, Centre for Quantum Technology, National University of Singapore, Singapore
- Lecturer at International Summer School on Quantum Information, Computation and Control (QuICC), Aberystwyth, United Kingdom
- The resource theory of quantum states that break symmetry (invited speaker) The XXIXth International Colloquium on Group-Theoretical Methods in Physics at Chern Institute of Mathematics, Tianjin, China
- Why I am not a psi-ontologist (invited speaker), New Directions in Foundations of Physics Conference, Washington D.C., USA
- Unscrambling the omelette: distinguishing reality from information in quantum theory, Colloquium, Physics department, University of Waterloo, Canada
- Formulating quantum theory as a causally neutral theory of Bayesian inference (invited speaker), South-West Quantum Information network (SQUINT), Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Formulating quantum theory as a causally neutral theory of Bayesian inference (invited speaker), Quantum Foundations in the Light of Quantum Information, Montreal, Canada
- Formulating quantum theory as a causally neutral theory of Bayesian inference (invited speaker), Why the Quantum? Workshop, Beyond Centre, Phoenix, USA
- Formulating quantum theory as a causally neutral theory of Bayesian inference, virtual seminar for Centre for Quantum Dynamics, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
- Formulating quantum theory as a causally neutral theory of Bayesian inference (invited speaker), Quantum Physics and Logic conference, Nijmegen, Netherlands
- Lecture series on the foundations of quantum theory at the Brazilian summer school on quantum information, Paraty, Brazil
- Bell correlations from the perspective of causal discovery algorithms, Computing lab seminar, Oxford University, UK
- Thermodynamics as a quantum resource theory, Workshop on Quantum Information and the Foundations of Thermodynamics, Zurich, Switzerland
- The invasion of physics by information theory, 14th Congress of logic, methodology and philosophy of science, Nancy, France
- Almost quantum theory: Classical theories with a statistical restriction, MaxEnt 2011, 31st International workshop on Bayesian Inference and Maximum Entropy Methods in Science and Engineering, Waterloo, Canada
- Beyond quantum contextuality, New Directions in the Foundations of Physics Conference, Washington D.C., USA
- Bell correlations from the perspective of causal discovery algorithms, First Clemson University Perimeter Institute Workshop, Clemson University, South Carolina, USA
- Almost quantum theory: Classical theories with a statistical restriction, Colloquium, Physics department, University of Rochester, USA
- The status of determinism in noncontextual models of quantum theory, Perimeter Institute Australia Foundations conference, Brisbane, Australia
- Specker's Parable of the Over-protective Seer: Implications for Contextuality, Nonlocality and Complementarity, Australian Institute of Physics meeting, Melbourne, Australia
- Contextuality Inequalities and Multiplexing, Colloquium at Centre for Quantum Dynamics, Griffith University, Australia
- Specker's Parable of the Over-protective Seer: Implications for Contextuality, Nonlocality and Complementarity, Seminar at the Institute for Quantum Information Science, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
- Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, lectures at the 10th Canadian summer school on quantum information, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
- Specker's Parable of the Over-protective Seer: Implications for Contextuality, Nonlocality and Complementarity, Workshop on Fundamentals of Physics and Information, Zurich, Switzerland
- Specker's Parable of the Over-protective Seer: Implications for Contextuality, Nonlocality and Complementarity, Quantum Information seminar, DAMTP, Cambridge
- Picturing Classical and Quantum Bayesian Inference, Conference on quantum physics and logic, Oxford, UK
- Noncontextuality Inequalities, Invited talk, Topical group on Quantum Information, APS March meeting
- Why the quantum? Insights from classical theories with a statistical restriction, Quantum Information Seminar, McGill University, Quebec
- Why the quantum? Insights from classical theories with a statistical restriction, Departmental Colloquium, University of Ottawa, Ontario
- Contextuality Inequalities and Multiplexing, Quantum Information Seminar, Sherbrooke University, Quebec
- Noncontextuality Inequalities and Multiplexing, CIFAR Workshop, Caledon, Ontario
- An information-theoretic application of contextuality, QICS Workshop on Foundational Structures for Quantum Information and Computation, Obergurgl, Austria
- Reference frames and relationalism in quantum theory, Conference on Perspective in Physics and Philosophy, Paris, France
- The power of epistemic restrictions in axiomatizing quantum theory: from trits to qutrits, Workshop on Information Primitives and Laws of Nature, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
- Quantum analogues of Bayes' theorem, sufficient statistics and the pooling problem, Sydney Quantum Information Theory Workshop, Sydney, Australia
- Generalized contextuality and notions of nonclassicality, Applied Quantum Measurement Workshop, Leyden, Netherlands
- Generalized contextuality and notions of nonclassicality, Vienna Symposium on Foundations of Physics, Vienna, Austria
- Insights into wave-particle duality from an epistemic interpretation of quantum states, Philosophical and Formal Foundations of Modern Physics, Fondation des Treilles, Tourtour, France
- Almost quantum theory: classical theories with a constraint on knowledge (Invited talk), APS March meeting, Denver, USA
- PIRSA:13070084, Quantum Foundations - 1, On Causal Explanations of Quantum Correlations, 2013-07-26, Loops 13
- PIRSA:13070030, Can Quantum correlations be Explained Causally?, 2013-07-15, ISSYP 2013
- PIRSA:13050085, Constraints on generalizations of quantum theory, 2013-05-28, The Quantum Landscape 2013
- Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Review, 2012/2013, Perimeter Scholars International, All lectures available at http://pirsa.org
- PIRSA:12070006, Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics, 2012-07-25, ISSYP 2012
- PIRSA:12050021, Why I Am Not a Psi-ontologist, 2012-05-08, Quantum Foundations
- Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Review, 2011/2012, Perimeter Scholars International, All lectures available at http://pirsa.org/C12002
- PIRSA:11110114, Formulating Quantum Theory as a Causally Neutral Theory of Bayesian Inference, 2011-11-08, Quantum Foundations
- PIRSA:11100102, The applications of symmetry in physics, 2011-10-14, Conceptual Gems of Theoretical Physics
- PIRSA:11100077, Researcher Presentation: Robert Spekkens, 2011-10-07, 11/12 PSI - Researcher Presentations
- Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Review, 2010/2011, Perimeter Scholars International, All lectures available at http://pirsa.org/C10038
- PIRSA:10120065, The status of determinism in noncontextual models of quantum theory, 2010-12-02, PIAF Workshop Brisbane
- PIRSA:10100060, Specker's parable of the overprotective seer: Implications for Contextuality, Nonlocality and Complementarity, 2010-10-12, Quantum Foundations
- PIRSA:10070035, The Strange Quantum - What does it mean and how can we use it?, 2010-07-20, ISSYP 2010
- Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Review (PHYS 639), 2009/2010, Perimeter Scholars International, All lectures available at http://pirsa.org/C09040
- PIRSA:09100013, Lecture Series presented by KPMG - Quantum Foundations: From Plato's Cave to Bertlmann's Socks, 2009-10-25, Quantum to Cosmos Festival - Tickets Available starting TUE. Sep 8, 2009
- PIRSA:09100011, The Art of Guesstimation, 2009-10-17, Quantum to Cosmos Festival - Tickets Available starting TUE. Sep 8, 2009
- PIRSA:09090098, Panel Discussion, 2009-09-30, PIAF 09' New Perspectives on the Quantum State
- PIRSA:09080009, The power of epistemic restrictions in reconstructing quantum theory, 2009-08-10, Reconstructing Quantum Theory
- PIRSA:09060021, Quantum analogues of Bayes' theorem, sufficient statistics and the pooling problem, 2009-06-03, Categories, Quanta, Concepts (CQC)
- PIRSA:08080096, The Strange Quantum: What does it mean and how can we use it?, 2008-08-15, ISSYP Virtual
- PIRSA:08080019, The Strange Quantum: What does it mean and how can we use it?, 2008-08-15, ISSYP 2008
- PIRSA:08020051, Why the quantum? Insights from classical theories with a statistical restriction, 2008-02-27, Colloquium
- PIRSA:07100032, The resource theory of quantum reference frames: manipulations and monotones, 2007-10-22, Colloquium
- PIRSA:07080040, Operationalism, hidden variable models, and contextuality (Part 1A), 2007-08-27, Quantum Foundations Summer School
- PIRSA:07080041, Operationalism, hidden variable models, and contextuality (Part 1B), 2007-08-27, Quantum Foundations Summer School
- PIRSA:07080062, The Strange Quantum: What does it mean and how can we use it? ISSYP Keynote Session, 2007-08-25, ISSYP 2007
- PIRSA:07060037, Categorizing nonclassical phenomena: the explanatory power of epistemic restrictions and contextuality, 2007-06-04, Operational Quantum Physics and the Quantum-Classical Contrast
- PIRSA:06030019, Liouville mechanics with an epistemic restriction and Bohr's response to EPR, 2006-03-22, Perimeter Institute Quantum Discussions
- PIRSA:06030019, Liouville mechanics with an epistemic restriction and Bohr's response to EPR, Perimeter Institute Quantum Discussions
- PIRSA:05070100, Preparation contextuality in its myriad forms, 2005-07-19, Quantum Information, Computation and Logic: Exploring New Connections - 2005
- PIRSA:05070100, Preparation contextuality in its myriad forms, Quantum Information, Computation and Logic: Exploring New Connections
- PIRSA:04100017, Contextuality for Preparations, Transformations, and Unsharp Measurements, 2004-10-27, Perimeter Institute Quantum Discussions
- PIRSA:04100017, Contextuality for Preparations, Transformations, and Unsharp Measurements, Perimeter Institute Quantum Discussions
- PIRSA:04080001, A Toy Story, 2004-08-23, ISSYP 2004
- PIRSA:04080002, A Toy Story (Part 2), 2004-08-23, ISSYP 2004
- PIRSA:04070002, Quantizing and Dequantizing Reference Frames, 2004-07-12, Workshop on Reference Frames and Superselection Rules in Quantum Information Theory - 2004
- PIRSA:04070002, Quantizing and Dequantizing Reference Frames, Workshop on Reference Frames and Superselection Rules in Quantum Information Theory
- PIRSA:03050009, In defense of the epistemic view of quantum states, 2003-05-21, Perimeter Institute Quantum Discussions

©2012 Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics