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12 - Quantum Theory as a Principle Theory: Insights from an Information-Theoretic Reconstruction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 May 2018

Michael E. Cuffaro
Affiliation:
University of Western Ontario
Samuel C. Fletcher
Affiliation:
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
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Summary

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 severe challenge for existing ψ-ontic interpretations. We also show that continuous reversible time evolution can be understood as a characteristic property of quantum theory, suggesting a possible answer to Chris Fuchs’ search for a “glimpse of quantum reality”.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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