Archive for March 2006

Foundations Spring/Summer 2006

19th March 2006

Here’s my list of the highlights of the conference season for foundations this year:

Personallly, I’ll definitely be at Vaxjo, Malta and Tsukuba, so I’ll see you there if you’re going.


Foundations at APS

14th March 2006

I’m currently at the APS March Meeting, where there were two sessions on Quantum Foundations on Monday. I am pleased to report that they were well attended. Hopefully, this marks the start of an increased involvement of the APS in the field.

The second session was particularly interesting, so here’s a short summary of what we heard:

  • Invited speaker Lucien Hardy outlined his Causaloid framework for general probabilistic theories without a fixed background causal structure. It is hoped that this might lead to a new path for developing a theory of quantum gravity.
  • Chris Fuchs gave a shortened version of his usual talk, focussing on the role of symmetric informationally complete POVMs in his approach to quantum foundations.
  • Terry Rudolph presented an extension of Rob Spekkens’ toy theory for dealing with continuous variable theories. This has lots of features in common with QM, but has a natural hidden variable interpretation, being a resticted version of Liouville mechanics.
  • Rob Spekkens showed how two seemingly different notions of “nonclassicallity”, nalely negativity of peseudo-probability distributions and the impossibility of a noncontextual hidden variable theory, are actually the same within the new approach to contextuality that he has developed.
  • Nicholas Harrigan outlined an approach to quantifying contextuality that he has been developing with Terry Rudolph.
  • Joseph Altepeter, from Kwiat’s group, gave an interesting presentation on their current state of the art photonic Bell inequality experiments.
  • OK, I have to admit that I was getting tired at this point and skipped out for a talk, so I have no idea about the next talk. Apologies to Giuliano Scarcelli.
  • There then followed two talks about decoherence from Diego Dalvit and Fernando Cucchietti, collaborators of Zurek and Paz respectively. This is an important topic for many interpretations of QM and the results looked solid. However, I’m not an expert on this stuff.
  • Ruth Kastner, who was due to deconstruct the now famous Ashfar experiment, was unfortunately unable to attend due to illness, but Ashfar was here to give his side of the story instead. The experiment is interesting at least because it has made quite a few physicists think about complimentarity and foundations in general a bit more deeply. Personally, I agree with Kastner’s analysis, but Ashfar disputes it.
  • Jeff Tollaksen outlined a new way of measuring the “weak values” introduced by Aharonov and collaborators. I didn’t follow the details of the construction, but look forward to reading the paper.
  • Caslav Brukner outlined his work with Zeilinger on an “information based” approach to quantum foundations. It’s not my personal favourite amongst such approaches, but gave plenty of food for thought.

Well, foundations at this meeting are pretty much finished after that. There are still a few interesting quantum information sessions before the end of the week, but I can leave other bloggeurs to deal with that.

Brainstorm for

8th March 2006

Lucien Hardy informs me that he has purchased the internet domians and The aim is to provide a central resource for the quantum foundations community, which is balanced (i.e. not biased towards a particular interpretation) and contains info on conferences, jobs, links to groups and researchers around the world etc. It would also be nice to have some original content, such as opinion pieces, as opposed to just links.

Don’t expect the site to appear overnight, since it will probably take quite a while to get all the concepts together, do the web design, etc. However, if you have any ideas for the site then either contact Lucien or leave a comment below, which I will pass on.