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Quantum State Analysis: Probability theory as logic in Quantum mechanics

by Månsson, Anders

Abstract (Summary)
Quantum mechanics is basically a mathematical recipe on how to construct physical models. Historically its origin and main domain of application has been in the microscopic regime, although it strictly seen constitutes a general mathematical framework not limited to this regime. Since it is a statistical theory, the meaning and role of probabilities in it need to be defined and understood in order to gain an understanding of the predictions and validity of quantum mechanics. The interpretational problems of quantum mechanics are also connected with the interpretation of the concept of probability. In this thesis the use of probability theory as extended logic, in particular in the way it was presented by E. T. Jaynes, will be central. With this interpretation of probabilities they become a subjective notion, always dependent on one's state of knowledge or the context in which they are assigned, which has consequences on how things are to be viewed, understood and tackled in quantum mechanics. For instance, the statistical operator or density operator, is usually defined in terms of probabilities and therefore also needs to be updated when the probabilities are updated by acquisition of additional data. Furthermore, it is a context dependent notion, meaning, e.g., that two observers will in general assign different statistical operators to the same phenomenon, which is demonstrated in the papers of the thesis. It is also presented an alternative and conceptually clear approach to the problematic notion of "probabilities of probabilities", which is related to such things as probability distributions on statistical operators. In connection to this, we consider concrete numerical applications of Bayesian quantum state assignment methods to a three-level quantum system, where prior knowledge and various kinds of measurement data are encoded into a statistical operator, which can then be used for deriving probabilities of other measurements. The thesis also offers examples of an alternative quantum state assignment technique, using maximum entropy methods, which in some cases are compared with the Bayesian quantum state assignment methods. Finally, the interesting and important problem whether the statistical operator, or more generally quantum mechanics, gives a complete description of "objective physical reality" is considered. A related concern is here the possibility of finding a "local hidden-variable theory" underlying the quantum mechanical description. There have been attempts to prove that such a theory cannot be constructed, where the most well-known impossibility proof claiming to show this was given by J. S. Bell. In connection to this, the thesis presents an idea for an interpretation or alternative approach to quantum mechanics based on the concept of space-time.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Kungliga Tekniska högskolan

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:TECHNOLOGY; Electrical engineering, electronics and photonics; Photonics; quantum; quantum mechanics; state; state analysis; probability; probability theory; logic

ISBN:978-91-7178-638-8

Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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