Weekly Papers on Quantum Foundations (29)

Authors: Siddhartha DasSumeet KhatriGeorge SiopsisMark M. Wilde

It is well known in the realm of quantum mechanics and information theory that the entropy is non-decreasing for the class of unital physical processes. However, in general, the entropy does not exhibit monotonic behavior. This has restricted the use of entropy change in characterizing evolution processes. Recently, a lower bound on the entropy change was provided in [Buscemi, Das, & Wilde, Phys. Rev. A 93(6), 062314 (2016)]. We explore the limit that this bound places on the physical evolution of a quantum system and discuss how these limits can be used as witnesses to characterize quantum dynamics. In particular, we derive a lower limit on the rate of entropy change for memoryless quantum dynamics, and we argue that it provides a witness of non-unitality. This limit on the rate of entropy change leads to definitions of several witnesses for testing memory effects in quantum dynamics. Furthermore, from the aforementioned lower bound on entropy change, we obtain a measure of non-unitarity for unital evolutions.

Authors: Carl A. Miller

The field of device-independent quantum cryptography has seen enormous success in the past several years, including security proofs for key distribution and random number generation that account for arbitrary imperfections in the devices used. Full security proofs in the field so far are long and technically deep. In this paper we show that the concept of the mirror adversary can be used to simplify device-independent proofs. We give a short proof that any bipartite Bell violation can be used to generate private random numbers. The proof is based on elementary techniques and is self-contained.

Authors: Marcin Wieśniak

Using the most basic mathematical tools, I present the full analysis of the experiment decribed in [A. Danan, D. Farfurnik, S. Bar-Ad, and L. Vaidman, {\em Phys. Rev. Lett.} {\bf 111}, 240402 (2013)]. First, I confirm that the data presented therein are in full agreement with the standard quantum mechanics. I then show other symptoms of presence of photons at all mirrors in the setup. I then analytically explain both the absence of peaks a Readers of [A. Danan, D. Farfurnik, S. Bar-Ad, and L. Vaidman, {\em Phys. Rev. Lett.} {\bf 111}, 240402 (2013)] are made to expect and presence of those not discussed in the Reference.

Authors: Mordecai Waegell

Parallel Lives (PL) is an ontological model of nature in which quantum mechanics and special relativity are unified in a single universe with a single Minkowski space-time. Point-like objects called \emph{lives} are the only fundamental objects in this space-time, and they propagate at or below $c$, and interact with one another only locally at point-like events in space-time — not unlike relativistic billiard balls. Lives are the only causal agents in the universe, and thus the causal structure of interaction events in space-time is Lorentz invariant. Each life traces a continuous world-line through space-time, and each life experiences its own \emph{relative world}, fully defined by the past events along its world-line. A quantum field comprises a continuum of lives throughout space-time, and excitations like particles are the familiar physical systems in the universe — each comprising its own sub-continuum of lives. A pure universal quantum wavefunction tracks the collective behavior of these lives, but not their individual dynamics. There is a preferred separable basis for the Hilbert space of the universal wavefunction, and for a given physical system, each orthogonal term in this basis is a different relative world — each containing some fraction of the lives of the system. Hidden information about entanglement correlations in the universal wavefunction is shared locally by lives at all interaction events and carried as they propagate. This hidden information governs which lives of different systems will meet during future interactions, and enforces entanglement correlations between the lives of the systems. All entanglement correlations — including Bell violations — are enforced by this local mechanism. These, and many other details, are explored here, but several aspects of this framework are not yet fleshed out, and work is ongoing.

Authors: Mustapha Maamache

We provide a new perspective on non-Hermitian evolution in quantum mechanics by emphasizing the same method as in the Hermitian quantum evolution. We first give a precise description of the non unitary evolution, and collecting the basic results around it and postulating the norm preserving. This cautionary postulate imposing that the time evolution of a non Hermitian quantum system preserves the inner products between the associated states must not be read naively. We also give an example showing that the solutions of time-dependent non Hermitian Hamiltonian systems given by a linear combination of SU(1,1) and SU(2) are obtained thanks to time-dependent non-unitary transformation.

de Haro, Sebastian and Butterfield, Jeremy (2017) A Schema for Duality, Illustrated by Bosonization. [Preprint]

Don’t let the catchy name distract you, says Philip Ball: the questions inspired by this arguably misnamed phenomenon go to the heart of quantum theory.

Nature News doi: 10.1038/nature.2017.22321

Phenomenon thought to occur only in exotic, high-energy physics environments seen in quantum material.

Nature News doi: 10.1038/nature.2017.22338

Authors: Sougato BoseAnupam MazumdarGavin W. MorleyHendrik UlbrichtMarko TorošMauro PaternostroAndrew GeraciPeter BarkerM. S. KimGerard Milburn

Understanding gravity in the framework of quantum mechanics is one of the great challenges in modern physics. Along this line, a prime question is to find whether gravity is a quantum entity subject to the rules of quantum mechanics. It is fair to say that there are no feasible ideas yet to test the quantum coherent behaviour of gravity directly in a laboratory experiment. Here, we introduce an idea for such a test based on the principle that two objects cannot be entangled without a quantum mediator. We show that despite the weakness of gravity, the phase evolution induced by the gravitational interaction of two micron size test masses in adjacent matter-wave interferometers can detectably entangle them even when they are placed far apart enough to keep Casimir-Polder forces at bay. We provide a prescription for witnessing this entanglement, which certifies gravity as a quantum coherent mediator, through simple correlation measurements between two spins: one embedded in each test mass. Fundamentally, the above entanglement is shown to certify the presence of non-zero off-diagonal terms in the coherent state basis of the gravitational field modes.

Authors: Chiara MarlettoVlatko Vedral

All existing quantum gravity proposals share the same deep problem. Their predictions are extremely hard to test in practice. Quantum effects in the gravitational field are exceptionally small, unlike those in the electromagnetic field. The fundamental reason is that the gravitational coupling constant is about 43 orders of magnitude smaller than the fine structure constant, which governs light-matter interactions. For example, the detection of gravitons — the hypothetical quanta of energy of the gravitational field predicted by certain quantum-gravity proposals — is deemed to be practically impossible. In this letter we adopt a radically different, quantum-information-theoretic approach which circumvents the problem that quantum gravity is hard to test. We propose an experiment to witness quantum-like features in the gravitational field, by probing it with two masses each in a superposition of two locations. First, we prove the fact that any system (e.g. a field) capable of mediating entanglement between two quantum systems must itself be quantum. This argument is general and does not rely on any specific dynamics. Then, we propose an experiment to detect the entanglement generated between two masses via gravitational interaction. By our argument, the degree of entanglement between the masses is an indirect witness of the quantisation of the field mediating the interaction. Remarkably, this experiment does not require any quantum control over gravity itself. It is also closer to realisation than other proposals, such as detecting gravitons or detecting quantum gravitational vacuum fluctuations.

Authors: Rui SampaioSamu SuomelaTapio Ala-NissilaJanet AndersThomas Philbin

At non-zero temperature classical systems exhibit statistical fluctuations of thermodynamic quantities arising from the variation of the system’s initial conditions and its interaction with the environment. The fluctuating work, for example, is characterised by the ensemble of system trajectories in phase space and, by including the probabilities for various trajectories to occur, a work distribution can be constructed. However, without phase space trajectories, the task of constructing a work probability distribution in the quantum regime has proven elusive. Indeed, the existence of such a distribution based on generalised measurements has recently been ruled out [Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 070601 (2017)]. Here we use quantum trajectories in phase space and define fluctuating work as power integrated along the trajectories, in complete analogy to classical statistical physics. The resulting work probability distribution is valid for any quantum evolution, including cases with coherences in the energy basis. We demonstrate the quantum work probability distribution and its properties with the example of a driven quantum harmonic oscillator. An important feature of the work distribution is its dependence on the initial statistical mixture of pure states and it thus goes beyond the framework of generalised measurements. The proposed approach allows the full thermodynamic characterisation of the dynamics of quantum systems, including the measurement process.

Authors: Katja RiedJean-Philippe W. MacLeanRobert W. SpekkensKevin J. Resch

The landscape of causal relations that can hold among a set of systems in quantum theory is richer than in classical physics. In particular, a pair of time-ordered systems can be related as cause and effect or as the effects of a common cause, and each of these causal mechanisms can be coherent or not. Furthermore, one can combine these mechanisms in different ways: by probabilistically realizing either one or the other or by having both act simultaneously (termed a physical mixture). In the latter case, it is possible for the two mechanisms to be combined quantum-coherently. Previous work has shown how to experimentally realize one example of each class of possible causal relations. Here, we make a theoretical and experimental study of the transitions between these classes. In particular, for each of the two distinct types of coherence that can exist in mixtures of common-cause and cause-effect relations–coherence in the individual causal pathways and coherence in the way the causal relations are combined–we determine how it degrades under noise and we confirm these expectations in a quantum-optical experiment.

Weatherall, James Owen (2017) Classical Spacetime Structure. [Preprint]
Publication date: Available online 18 July 2017
Source:Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Author(s): Sebastian Fortin, Olimpia Lombardi, Juan Camilo Martínez González

Topological effects might be hiding inside perfectly ordinary materials, waiting to reveal bizarre new particles or bolster quantum computing.

Nature 547 272 doi: 10.1038/547272a

The conservation laws, such as those of charge, energy and momentum, have a central role in physics. In some special cases, classical conservation laws are broken at the quantum level by quantum fluctuations, in which case the theory is said to have quantum anomalies. One of the most prominent examples is the chiral anomaly, which involves massless chiral fermions. These particles have their spin, or internal angular momentum, aligned either parallel or antiparallel with their linear momentum, labelled as left and right chirality, respectively. In three spatial dimensions, the chiral anomaly is the breakdown (as a result of externally applied parallel electric and magnetic fields) of the classical conservation law that dictates that the number of massless fermions of each chirality are separately conserved. The current that measures the difference between left- and right-handed particles is called the axial current and is not conserved at the quantum level. In addition, an underlying curved space-time provides a distinct contribution to a chiral imbalance, an effect known as the mixed axial–gravitational anomaly, but this anomaly has yet to be confirmed experimentally. However, the presence of a mixed gauge–gravitational anomaly has recently been tied to thermoelectrical transport in a magnetic field, even in flat space-time, suggesting that such types of mixed anomaly could be experimentally probed in condensed matter systems known as Weyl semimetals. Here, using a temperature gradient, we observe experimentally a positive magneto-thermoelectric conductance in the Weyl semimetal niobium phosphide (NbP) for collinear temperature gradients and magnetic fields that vanishes in the ultra-quantum limit, when only a single Landau level is occupied. This observation is consistent with the presence of a mixed axial–gravitational anomaly, providing clear evidence for a theoretical concept that has so far eluded experimental detection.

Nature 547 324 doi: 10.1038/nature23005

Authors: Alessandro Moia

In the last decades, noncommutative spacetimes and their deformed relativistic symmetries have usually been studied in the context of field theory, replacing the ordinary Minkowski background with an algebra of noncommutative coordinates. However, spacetime noncommutativity can also be introduced into single-particle covariant quantum mechanics, replacing the commuting operators representing the particle’s spacetime coordinates with noncommuting ones. In this paper we provide a full characterization of a wide class of physically sensible single-particle noncommutative spacetime models and the associated deformed relativistic symmetries. In particular, we prove that they can all be obtained from the standard Minkowski model and the usual Poincar\’e transformations via a suitable change of variables. Contrary to previous studies, we find that spacetime noncommutativity does not affect the dispersion relation of a relativistic quantum particle, but only the transformation properties of its spacetime coordinates under translations and Lorentz transformations.

Authors: Edoardo Piparo (Ministero dell’Istruzione dell’Università e della Ricerca)

This paper is the first of several parts introducing a new powerful algebra: the algebra of the pseudo-observables. This is a C*-algebra whose set is formed by formal expressions involving observables. The algebra is constructed by applying the Occam’s razor principle, in order to obtain the minimal description of physical reality. Proceeding in such a manner, every aspect of quantum mechanics acquires a clear physical interpretation or a logical explanation, providing, for instance, in a natural way the reason for the structure of complex algebra and the matrix structure of Werner Heisenberg’s formulation of quantum mechanics. Last but not least, the very general hypotheses assumed, allow one to state that quantum mechanics is the unique minimal description of physical reality.

Authors: Weidong TangSixia Yu

Since the enlightening proofs of quantum contextuality first established by Kochen and Specker, and also by Bell, various simplified proofs have been constructed to exclude the non-contextual hidden variable (NCHV) theory of our nature at the microscopic scale. The conflict between the NCHV theory and quantum mechanics is commonly revealed by Kochen-Specker (KS) sets of yes-no tests, represented by projectors (or rays), via either logical contradictions or noncontextuality inequalities in a state-(in)dependent manner. Here we propose a systematic and programmable construction of a state-independent proof from a given set of nonspecific rays according to their Gram matrix. Our approach not only brings us a greater convenience in the experimental arrangements but also yields a geometric proof for the KS theorem, which seems quite effective for some extreme cases and may be the most intuitive proof so far.

Authors: Adam KoberinskiMarkus P. Mueller

We give a condensed and accessible summary of a recent derivation of quantum theory from information-theoretic principles, and use it to study the consequences of this and other reconstructions for our conceptual understanding of the quantum world. Since these principles are to a large extent expressed in computational terminology, we argue that the hypothesis of “physics as computation”, if suitably interpreted, attains surprising explanatory power. Similarly as Jeffrey Bub and others, we conclude that quantum theory should be understood as a “principle theory of information”, and we regard this view as a partial interpretation of quantum theory. We outline three options for completion into a full-fledged interpretation of quantum theory, but argue that, despite their interpretational agnosticism, the principled reconstructions pose a challenge for existing psi-ontic interpretations. We also argue that continuous reversible time evolution can be understood as a characteristic property of quantum theory, offering a possible answer to Chris Fuchs’ search for a “glimpse of quantum reality”.

Authors: Ricardo Gallego Torromé

A geometric interpretation for quantum correlations and entanglement according to a particular framework of emergent quantum mechanics is developed. The mechanism described is based on two ingredients: 1. At an hypothetical sub-quantum level description of physical systems, the dynamics has a regime where it is partially ergodic and 2. A formal projection from a two-dimensional time mathematical formalism of the emergent quantum theory to the usual one-dimensional time formalism of quantum dynamics. Observable consequences of the theory are obtained. Among them we show that quantum correlations must be instantaneous from the point of view of the spacetime description, but the spatial distance up to which they can be observed must be bounded. It is argued how our mechanism avoids Bell theorem and Kochen-Specken theorem. Evidence for non-signaling faster than the speed of light in our proposal is discussed.

Authors: Matthew P. A. FisherLeo Radzihovsky

Quantum indistinguishability plays a crucial role in many low-energy physical phenomena, from quantum fluids to molecular spectroscopy. It is, however, typically ignored in most high temperature processes, particularly for ionic coordinates, implicitly assumed to be distinguishable, incoherent and thus well-approximated classically. We explore chemical reactions involving small symmetric molecules, and argue that in many situations a full quantum treatment of collective nuclear degrees of freedom is essential. Supported by several physical arguments, we conjecture a “Quantum Dynamical Selection” (QDS) rule for small symmetric molecules that precludes chemical processes that involve direct transitions from orbitally non-symmetric molecular states. As we propose and discuss, the implications of the Quantum Dynamical Selection rule include: (i) a differential chemical reactivity of para- and ortho-hydrogen, (ii) a mechanism for inducing inter-molecular quantum entanglement of nuclear spins, (iii) a new isotope fractionation mechanism, (iv) a novel explanation of the enhanced chemical activity of “Reactive Oxygen Species”, (v) illuminating the importance of ortho-water molecules in modulating the quantum dynamics of liquid water, (vi) providing the critical quantum-to-biochemical linkage in the nuclear spin model of the (putative) quantum brain, among others.

Authors: Manik BanikSamir KunkriAvijit MisraSome Sankar BhattacharyaArup RoyAmit Mukherjee,Sibasish GhoshGuruprasad Kar

Nonlocality is the most characteristic feature of quantum mechanics. John Bell, in his seminal 1964 work, proved that local-realism imposes a bound on the correlations among the measurement statistics of distant observers. Surpassing this bound rules out local-realistic description of microscopic phenomena, establishing the presence of nonlocal correlation. To manifest nonlocality, it requires, in the simplest scenario, two measurements performed randomly by each of two distant observers. In this work, we propose a novel framework where three measurements, two on Alice’s side and one on Bob’s side, suffice to reveal quantum nonlocality and hence does not require all-out randomness in measurement choice. Our method relies on a very naive operational task in quantum information theory, namely, the minimal error state discrimination. As a practical implication this method constitutes an economical entanglement detection scheme, which uses a less number of entangled states compared to all such existing schemes. Moreover, the method applies to class of generalized probability theories containing quantum theory as a special example.

Kryukov, Alexey A (2017) On the motion of macroscopic bodies in quantum theory. [Preprint]

Authors: J. Acacio de BarrosFederico HolikDecio Krause

It is well known that in quantum mechanics we cannot always define consistently properties that are context independent. Many approaches exist to describe contextual properties, such as Contextuality by Default (CbD), sheaf theory, topos theory, and non-standard or signed probabilities. In this paper we propose a treatment of contextual properties that is specific to quantum mechanics, as it relies on the relationship between contextuality and indistinguishability. In particular, we propose that if we assume the ontological thesis that quantum particles or properties can be indistinguishable yet different, no contradiction arising from a Kochen-Specker-type argument appears: when we repeat an experiment, we are in reality performing an experiment measuring a property that is indistinguishable from the first, but not the same. We will discuss how the consequences of this move may help us understand quantum contextuality.

Authors: John S. Briggs

An assessment is given as to the extent to which pure unitary evolution, as distinct from environmental decohering interaction, can provide the transition necessary for an observer to interpret perceived quantum dynamics as classical. This has implications for the interpretation of quantum wavefunctions as a characteristic of ensembles or of single particles and the related question of wavefunction collapse.

Authors: Anastasios Y. Papaioannou

Using the language of the Geometric Algebra, we recast the massless Dirac bispinor as a set of Lorentz scalar, bivector, and pseudoscalar fields that obey a generalized form of Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism. The spinor’s unusual 4-pi rotation symmetry is seen to be a mathematical artifact of the projection of these fields onto an abstract vector space, and not a physical property of the dynamical fields themselves. We also find a deeper understanding of the spin angular momentum and other Dirac field bilinears in terms of these fields and their corresponding analogues in classical electromagnetism.

Authors: David Ellerman

Logical information theory is the quantitative version of the logic of partitions just as logical probability theory is the quantitative version of the dual Boolean logic of subsets. The resulting notion of information is about distinctions, differences, and distinguishability, and is formalized as the distinctions of a partition (a pair of points distinguished by the partition). All the definitions of simple, joint, conditional, and mutual entropy of Shannon information theory are derived by a uniform transformation from the corresponding definitions at the logical level. The purpose of this paper is to give the direct generalization to quantum logical information theory that similarly focuses on the pairs of eigenstates distinguished by an observable, i.e., qubits of an observable. The fundamental theorem for quantum logical entropy and measurement establishes a direct quantitative connection between the increase in quantum logical entropy due to a projective measurement and the eigenstates (cohered together in the pure superposition state being measured) that are distinguished by the measurement (decohered in the post-measurement mixed state). Both the classical and quantum versions of logical entropy have simple interpretations as “two-draw” probabilities. The conclusion is that quantum logical entropy is the simple and natural notion of information for a quantum information theory focusing on the distinguishing of quantum states.


Quantum mechanics is seen to be incomplete not because it cannot explain the correlations that characterize entanglement without invoking either non-locality or realism, both of which, despite special relativity or no-go theorems, are at least conceivable. Quantum mechanics is incomplete, in a perhaps broader than hidden variable sense, because it fails to address within its theoretical structure the question of how even a single particle, by being in a given quantum state, causes the frequency distribution of measurement values specified by the state. This incompleteness of quantum mechanics as it is currently conceived is both fundamental and indefeasible. Failure to address the question of how the states of entangled particles are given effect to yield the correlations they specify is simply a particular albeit attention arresting instance of this incompleteness. But if that is so then quantum mechanics cannot be held to be inconsistent with locality.

Ellerman, David (2017) The Quantum Logic of Direct-Sum Decompositions: The Dual to the Quantum Logic of Subspaces. [Preprint]
French, Steven (2017) Models and Meaning Change: An Introduction to the Work of Mary Hesse. [Preprint]
Gao, Shan (2017) Relativity without Light: A Further Suggestion. [Preprint]

Authors: Leonard SusskindYing Zhao

ER=EPR allows us to think of quantum teleportation as communication of quantum information through space-time wormholes connecting entangled systems. The conditions for teleportation render the wormhole traversable so that a quantum system entering one end of the ERB will, after a suitable time, appear at the other end. Teleportation requires the transfer of classical information outside the horizon, but the classical bit-string carries no information about the teleported system; the teleported system passes through the ERB leaving no trace outside the horizon. In general the teleported system will retain a memory of what it encountered in the wormhole. This phenomenon could be observable in a laboratory equipped with quantum computers.

Authors: Kicheon Kang

We propose a quantitative test of the quantum nonlocality in the electromagnetic interaction that generates the Aharonov-Bohm effect. For this purpose, we derive an interaction Lagrangian based on the local action of gauge-invariant quantities only, and compare it with the standard potential-based (“nonlocal”) Lagrangian. It is shown that the two models provide identical results for any phenomena involving classical equations of motion or topological quantum phases. Interestingly, we find an example violating this equivalence, that is, the interference of single charges coproduced from two independent sources. Whereas a well-defined phase shift of the interference is predicted in the “local” model, the standard nonlocal Lagrangian does not provide a gauge-invariant phase shift. This implies that an observation of the interference in the proposed setup can rule out the gauge-dependent potential-based model. This result has profound implications as it can settle the issue of dynamical nonlocality in the quantum electromagnetic interaction.

Authors: Charis AnastopoulosBei-Lok Hu

We ask the question how the (weak) equivalence principle established in classical gravitational physics should be reformulated and interpreted for massive quantum objects that may also have internal degrees of freedom (dof). This inquiry is necessary because even elementary concepts like a classical trajectory are not well defined in quantum physics — trajectories originating from quantum histories become viable entities only under stringent decoherence conditions. From this investigation we posit two logically and operationally distinct statements of the equivalence principle for quantum systems: Version A: The probability distribution of position for a free-falling particle is the same as the probability distribution of a free particle, modulo a mass-independent shift of its mean. Version B: Any two particles with the same velocity wave-function behave identically in free fall, irrespective of their masses. Both statements apply to all quantum states, including non-classical ones, and also for composite particles with quantum internal dof. We also investigate the consequences of the interaction between internal and external dof induced by free fall. For a class of initial states, we find a dephasing for the translational dof, namely, the suppression of the off-diagonal terms of the density matrix, in the position basis. We also find a gravitational phase shift in the reduced density matrix of the internal dof that does not depend on the particle’s mass. For classical states, the phase shift has a natural classical interpretation in terms of gravitational red-shift and special relativistic time-dilation.

Crowther, Karen and Linnemann, Niels (2017) Renormalizability, fundamentality and a final theory: The role of UV-completion in the search for quantum gravity. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Peterson, Daniel (2017) Do Time-Asymmetric Laws call for Time-Asymmetric Spacetime Structure? [Preprint]

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