From operational axioms to quantum theory - and beyond?

  • Markus Müller (Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo (Ontario, Canada))
A3 02 (Seminar room)


Usually, quantum theory (QT) is introduced by giving a list of abstract mathematical postulates, including the Hilbert space formalism and the Born rule. Even though the result is mathematically sound and in perfect agreement with experiment, there remains the question why this formalism is a natural choice, and how QT could possibly be modified in a consistent way.

My talk is on recent work with Lluis Masanes, where we show that five simple operational axioms actually determine the formalism of QT uniquely. This is based to a large extent on Lucien Hardy's seminal work. We start with the framework of "general probabilistic theories", a simple, minimal mathematical description for outcome probabilities of measurements. Then, we use group theory and convex geometry to show that the state space of a bit must be a 3D (Bloch) ball, finally recovering the Hilbert space formalism. There will also be some speculation on how to find natural post-quantum theories by dropping one of the axioms.

Katharina Matschke

MPI for Mathematics in the Sciences Contact via Mail