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TOPIC: Is the Stock Market a Quantum Phenomenon? [refresh]
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Blogger William Orem wrote on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 15:12 GMT


There is something in the deep structure of nature that prevents, or possibly cancels out, quantum effects in macroscopic objects. We don’t know what that thing is: some suppose gravitation to be the answer (I am among those); some, the mounting impossibility, as the atoms add up, of sufficiently isolating a system from any information-bearing interaction with its environment. Information, even that contained in a simple thermal bath, spoils the requisite epistemological ambiguity, collapsing waves from probabilities into particles.

We don’t yet know how large an object can be made to perform quantum behaviors. Just before the turn of the century Anton Zeilinger did it with buckyballs, weighing in at almost 100 atoms; when I spoke to Keith Schwab in 2007 he was in the midst of an FQXi-supported experiment on creating a ten-billion atom structure that could perform quantum feats of bilocation. And the objects just keep getting bigger.

At some point, nonetheless—the limits of our ability to super-cool systems, some non-linearity inherent in QM itself—quantum effects disappear, and the classical world takes over.

However.

It occurs to me that, while some sort of classical-quantum limit exists for objects with mass, nothing suggests that limit need apply to what we might call “conceptual objects.” I’m making up the vocabulary here on the fly, but follow my thought. By “conceptual object” I just mean a large-scale integrated system which is emergent from a whole host of smaller, physical objects, but is not itself a physical thing.

Granted, this sounds like Chopraese woo-woo, but what I have in mind is actually quite commonplace. An everyday example of a conceptual object might be, say, the Amtrak Timetable. The Timetable is the relationship among all the Amtrak trains in time and space. It isn’t anywhere, as it isn’t a physical thing, like a train or a platform. Still, we use the conceptual object “Timetable” with no difficulty (except for that irritatingly small print).

This would be a conceptual object of a dull sort. Now, what about something more interesting—what about the Stock Market?

What we mean by the term is relatively unambiguous, though nowhere near as easy to pin down as what we mean by “Amtrak Timetable.” But like any system, the Stock Market made up of numerous discrete entities, no one of which is determinative of the whole. The Stock Market itself doesn’t exist anywhere: it’s a conceptual object that emerges as a result of the changing relationships among millions, or billions, of data points. For the purpose of discussion we can regard these data points as physical objects—say, Euros—or as events—say, buy/sell orders. Depending on our pecuniary savvy, we might quibble over whether financial instruments are composed of smaller financial instruments; what the actual “atom” of the market consists of; and the like. For the moment, set those distinctions aside. However we define “Stock Market,” when we lament its fall over a copy of the Wall Street Journal in the morning, we’re trying to understand the behavior exhibited by a conceptual object, something nonlocal and nonphysical that emerges as the result of lots of little physicals.

But there’s a critical difference between the kind of conceptual object that emerges from the relationship among trains and the one that emerges from the relationship among transactions. The difference is that knowing what time train A arrives, by looking in the Timetable, is irrelevant to what time train A arrives. Trains aren’t connected to knowledge.



Not so with the Market. (If you see where this is going, move to the head of the class.) Wiz-kids have been trying for generations to predict Market fluctuations based on mathematical models. So far, success has been limited, which is polite. New claims about unexpected keys to Market analysis seem to be forever popping up, from hens to hemlines. Still, you may have noticed that nobody, from your neighbor with his surefire investment tip to the fancy suits who work at brokerages, was saying to you on May 5th of this year: “Pull out! Pull out now! It’s all going south tomorrow!” The pros had no more idea what caused the 1000-point “flash crash” than the shmoes.

By the way, there is a (silly, I’m afraid) movie called “Pi” that came out a decade or so ago about just this modern epistemological quest. Math genius is recruited by Wall Street firm, or its shady equivalent, to figure out the deep pattern in stock market fluctuations and allow reliable prediction. Turns out he’s actually on the trail of the secret name of God. (I told you it was silly.)

Well, past performance does not indicate future behavior, as they say. There’s an element of uncertainty in Market behavior, and it may be inherent in the system, allowing us to glean an average trend across years or decades but not individual events. Should that sound at all familiar?

Second point: the behavior of the Market changes based on what people know—specifically what they know about the Market’s behavior. There is a self-referential quality that has something to do with information. Macro-Economists are left saying such strange things as: “If we could just get consumer confidence back, the Market would rebound.” Which really does mean: if we believed the Market were strong, it would be strong—not by magic, but because the behavior of individual data-points responds to information about what all the other data points are doing.

This sounds suspiciously like a quantum phenomenon. If nobody looks—say, when a great many are buying on margin—there’s no problem using money that doesn’t actually (read: classically) exist. The Market is in a wave state: robust, even absurdly extended, so long as no one asks exactly where the money is right now. Trading can go at a much higher volume than is “possible.” A margin call is the equivalent of collapsing the wavefunction: that is, have some information-bearing interaction break into the Market, and suddenly all that money has to be somewhere. And if yours isn’t there, I have to say whether mine is there or not. And so does the guy who borrowed from me.

It’s probably just a metaphor. But what if it’s more than that? Physics has been crossing steadily over into epistemology since Copenhagen. We routinely discuss nature in terms of information; we utilize observation, and the absence of observation, as tools in getting nature to do things that are classically outlawed. Well, trading volumes that are higher than the amount of money “really” changing hands are classically unreal, but these bubbles seem to occur in the conceptual object nonetheless, work their wonders, and then collapse again as a result of information escaping.

Might we use what we know about quantum behaviors, and our burgeoning knowledge of how to maintain them in macroscopic environments, finally to understand how the Market itself operates?



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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 16:11 GMT
The same Gauss who is to blame for abandoning the Euclidean meaning of the notion number as a measure and giving rise to the sets of zero-dimensional point was allegedly clever enough as to benefit at the stock market from mathematical models before Karl Marx stated its cyclic behavior. Maybe, Gauss was not the first one.

Anyway, I guess, the physicists can learn a lot from the bankers rather than the other way round:

There are no negative assets. Symmetries do not play any role. Every wrong guess will be punished. While a few mainstream journals are in position to suppress any really radical criticism, the market allows anybody to decide what to buy or to sell. Perhaps everybody would try to get rid of shares from something like aleph_2 that failed to make profit for more than a hundred years. By the way, will shares of quantum computers outperform those of Amazon or Checkpoint?

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John Merryman wrote on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 17:45 GMT
Maybe it's our classical assumptions about what is real that are the illusion and nature is trying to give us a hint.

Without motion, nothing exists. With motion, nothing exists forever.

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John Merryman wrote on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 18:27 GMT
" If nobody looks—say, when a great many are buying on margin—there’s no problem using money that doesn’t actually (read: classically) exist."

Uhh.. The money is essentially being borrowed into existence. The advantage is that debt tends to grow at a rate roughly equal to production, so it creates a useful method of determining how much money is necessary. The problem is that production must increase to pay off the debt and debt must increase to finance production. This isn't quantum mechanics. This is a feedback loop and one which is about to reverse direction in a very significant fashion. Most of what has been going on the last thirty years has been the froth of topping out of this process, as ever more debt, both public and private, is required to maintain the illusion of wealth. Unfortunately, the laws of supply and demand apply to capital, but those with the supply prefer not to acknowledge the fact that it is demand, ie. borrowers, which determines how much wealth the economy can viably support.

If we are going to talk about wave collapse in real world situations and keep it a little closer to the topic of physics, why don't we discuss it in terms of physical theories as waves and what happens when they encounter the "anomalies" of reality? Oh, that's right, they create lots of little wavelets of supporting theories!

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Karl Coryat wrote on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 19:46 GMT
It's probably a coincidence. This seems to be the nature of a lot of things: smooth from a distance, jagged close-up. It applies to mountains and to musical waveforms. If you record a cello note, from a distance the waveform has a recognizable frequency. But as you zoom in, the waveform becomes increasingly stochastic, and approaches noise at the limit of recording resolution.

There is also the question of free will. Stock-market transactions, presumably, are driven by human brains making free-will decisions. For fundamental particles, not the case. Or is it? Perhaps particles operate with a primordial form of 'free will' that appears to us as random? Maybe our reasoned free-will decisions would appear random to an outside observer?

Regardless, the notion of information escape in this context is fascinating. A conspiracy becomes (exponentially?) harder to maintain as the number of participants increases. Win an 'n' of just one or two dozen, the system becomes unwieldy, and when information inevitably escapes from the isolated system into the environment, the 'coherence' of the conspiracy collapses. This is good stuff.

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Don limuti (digitalwavetheory.com) wrote on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 20:59 GMT
William,

Good topic. I particularly liked the link "bigger" link. I forecast that the experiment to detect quantum behavior in objects over the Planck Mass will fail because pure quantum behavior is not possible beyond the Planck Mass.

The deBroglie equation has traditionally been interpreted to apply to all masses, and all masses therefore are considered to have "wavelength". In Digital Wave Theory the deBroglie equation is given a slightly different interpretation and the highest value mass that can interfere with itself is determined to be the Planck Mass. Beyond this the concept of "a" wavelength disappears and is replaced with "statistical" behavior. The details are given at www.digitalwavetheory.com.

Granted, this sounds like Chopraese woo-woo, but take a look anyway.

Don L.

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Jason Wolfe wrote on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 22:12 GMT
William,

This is really a great article! This is very insightful. Thank you.

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James Putnam wrote on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 22:46 GMT
Not to anyone in particular since questions do not lead to author's answers. I followed and read the link posted as woo-woo. All I learned from it was the bias of Michael Schermer which I was already aware of and perhaps now the bias of William Orem. I think it is correct that this:

"...By "conceptual object" I just mean a large-scale integrated system which is emergent from a whole host of smaller, physical objects, but is not itself a physical thing. ..."

sounds like something made up off-the-cuff. I see the word 'emergent' used repeatedly to cover over lack of demonstrable scientific connection. All we are shown is that the empirical observation of one thing follows another while the fact that we do not know what cause is is avoided or, worse, theoretically obfuscated.

James

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Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 23:15 GMT
William,

For a surprising and interesting connection between the stock market and Planck's Law for blackbody radiation, read my paper Stocks and Planck's Law.

Constantinos

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Jason Wolfe wrote on Oct. 27, 2010 @ 01:37 GMT
Maybe Deepak Chuprah IS the woo woo master. I read those quotes and they sound like sophistry to me.

On this website, I have defended ideas such as the paranormal, God, the soul and other such "hard to pin down" topics. I think I've offered very specific examples of connections between physics/quantum mechanics, biology, chemistry, and the possibility that the universe itself permits mysterious and "aetheric-like" phenomena.

But if anyone thinks I've been too vague or general about my ideas, I am happy to engage any such critism.

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James Putnam wrote on Oct. 27, 2010 @ 02:07 GMT
Dear Jason,

In case you were referring to my message: I had no thoughts of you or things you have said when I wrote that message.

Deepak Chuprah is not important to me. What is important are the texts of the quotes referred to, regardless of who may have said them, and the responses given by Michael Schermer. I think the quotes could be sensibly interpreted without knowing what it was that Deepak Chuprah had in his mind. I don't know what he thought. I do know what I think. It is the quotes that were used and characterized by Michael Schermer. The characterizations, I think, demonstrated Michael Schermer's bias, of which I was already familiar. He could make no sense of those quotes. I could. The meaning that I would attach would be my own. I have not read anything by Deepak Chuproh. I do not know what any of this may have to do with what you may believe. It has merely to do with my own opinion about the possible interpretation of the quotes by a reader such as myself.

James

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Jason Wolfe replied on Oct. 27, 2010 @ 03:14 GMT
Dear James,

I guess it touched a nerve for me. It bothers me that scientific minds regularly dismiss such ideas (God, paranormal, ghosts, etc...) without so much as an honest attempt to examine it. Yet, such phenomena is difficult to pin down and is so often deeply connected to the person who is experiencing it.

It does bother me that there are so many New Age air-heads out there; it's embarrasing. Things like the UFO's seen in New York turned out to be baloons. Yet the objects in El Paso, they were in free-fall, and then stopped on a dime. That looked impressive, but I can't tell if a fighter plane did that or a UFO.

This is what it comes down to. All of these phenomena bring hope and peace of mind. That is one of the reasons why I work on the tractor beam and hyper-drive. Quantum Mechanics communicates this message of: nobody knows what's down there. But I believe that it's better to do something positive with the "unknown" than just to call it "noise".

That mysterious quality of the universe inspires me to see a connection between things like "Let there be light" and the Big Bang. It inspires me to search for patterns in places that scarcely any physicist can comprehend. I've used that "magical thinking" part of my mind to analyze physics. I've even had discussions with God about physics.

But it comes to this. Either I am delusional, or I will get RESULTS. In either case, the down side is far less than this attitude that intellectuals have: nothings exists, no God, no magic, only dispair.

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John Merryman replied on Oct. 27, 2010 @ 10:36 GMT
Jason,

Don't knock "noise." It's temperature; non-linear energy. Order/signals emerge from it when there is a gradient of energy. ;-)

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Jason Wolfe replied on Oct. 27, 2010 @ 16:30 GMT
OK, John, if you say so, noise is great! You must believe that a randomly behaving stock market is also just noise without any underlying intelligence or purpose?

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Oct. 27, 2010 @ 12:14 GMT
Benoit Mandelbrot, who died October 14 of this year, wrote an article on the fractal nature of Wall Street and other investment trends. The short term behavior of the market has the same generic structure as the large scale behavior. Julian Simon exploited this fact to derive algorithms to do microtrades, where buy and sell was done on second by second fluctuations of penny changes in the value of stocks. He and his company, called something like “Renaissance Fund” as I recall, have made billions off of this. Of course the cat is out of the bag and everyone is doing this now.

This tends to question whether there is much quantum behavior in investment markets. As the article indicates one would expect some large scale smoothing of things corresponding to or analogous to the quantum classical transition. This would not be a scale invariance of the sort common to a system with a Hausdorff dimension for large scale invariance,

Quantum mechanics is from a stochastic perspective Markovian. This means a fluctuation at one time does not communicate information into the future. Yet a fluctuation in markets (what we can identify as a fluctuation) can become amplified and indeed influence the future. A bull market is a case of a sub-Markovian process where fluctuations can promote information into the future. A bear market is a super-Markovian process where fluctuations at one time can erase information. So from this perspective markets depart from quantum mechanics.

Markets tend to better conform to open systems, such as strange attractor physics. Markets exhibit behavior that is generically more similar to a logistics map or Henon-Heiles dynamics. These systems are open to an influx of energy and have internal dissipative mechanisms which generate entropy or information loss.

Cheers LC

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Oct. 29, 2010 @ 10:03 GMT
Is the Stock Market a Quantum Phenomenon?

No a human phenomenon.

An other point these things are purelly dedicated to disappear in Time space evolution, you know these pappers wich govern our life.

Borders, arms and weapons,monney, .........aren't universal but Earthian simply.

The planets aren't to sell at my knowledge.

Now if the categorification of priorities are in specific algorythms of selection.There the stock market is chaotic if some universalities aren't inserted.

The quantum world is harmonious, we see the chaos in the short moment as a foto of the whole.Thus of course...

Steve

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Blogger William Orem wrote on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 00:21 GMT
Thanks, Jason. It's a pleasure.

With regard to these thoughts, I came across the following passage from *Four Systems* by Carl Cohen this week:

“The one thing upon which capitalist economists agree with virtual unanimity is that they do not really understand the fluctuations of the market, cannot predict its movement, and do not know how to maintain its health. A thousand schemes are presented, backed by statistical pseudo-arguments and dire threats: increase taxes to cool the economy and dampen inflation; decrease taxes to stimulate the economy encourage business investment, and create jobs; hold down the money supply to discourage borrowing and the devaluation of the dollar; increase the money supply to prime the pump of consumer spending and reduce interest rates—and on and on. But it is all worthless speculation. There are no rational cures for a reason the capitalist cannot admit, even to himself: the system is itself disorder, and it spawns further disorder. Scientific remedies may be hoped for where the underlying system is sound, however complicated the illness. In the capitalist market there is no real system at all. It is, in essence, disordered.”

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James Putnam wrote on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 00:35 GMT
"In the capitalist market there is no real system at all. It is, in essence, disordered.”

Where does this nonsense originate? Of course it is a real system. No it is not disordered. Thank goodness we have 'business' people managing business. Perhaps you will next define the market as a form of entropy. I don't agree with theoretical physics interpretations of entropy and I certainly do not wan't physicists controlling the American economy. Your theories are wrong about physics. Get theoretical physics straight first. Figure out why h=kec?

James

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Jason Wolfe replied on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 01:14 GMT
James,

On h=kec, do the units match/cancel? If they don't, then it might just be a coincidence.

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James Putnam replied on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 15:46 GMT
William Orem,

Looking at my message this morning, I apologize for expressing my disagreement with your analysis:

"In the capitalist market there is no real system at all. It is, in essence, disordered."

as:

"Where does this nonsense originate?" I retract that statement. I just strongly disagree.

Cordially,

James

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John Merryman replied on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 17:38 GMT
The market is an economic ecosystem, with the various players functioning as the organisms within it. As such, any and all players are constantly searching niches to exploit. Any successful strategy will be copied to the point it loses any particular advantage. The result is that while individual players are necessarily linear in their motivations, ie. attracted to benefits and repelled by detriments, the over all system is consequently reactive.

Capitalism, contrary to conventional wisdom, is not synonymous with free markets. In order to function efficiently a market needs a medium of exchange in order to efficiently allocate value and resources. As we are finding out, when that medium is being provided by a private, for profit party, it is in the position to control and tax the exchange of value between all other sectors of the economy.

The long term result is that the economic ecosystem functions within the confines of this monetary provider. Much like any organic body contains various sub-ecosystems within it. Since it has become evident that the political authorities automatically bought and guaranteed trillion of dollars worth of questionable debt the banking system was holding, but are unwilling to currently buy or guarantee the several hundred billion required to keep state and local governments afloat, it is evident just who is the center of power in our current social model.

The financial system must remain separate from the political system, for evident reasons, but they are both forms of public utilities. Much as complex fauna has both a central nervous system for information processing and navigation, we all also have a circulatory system to transfer energy and resources throughout the body.

So it is not that these systems are chaotic, or disordered. They are simply non-linear.

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James Putnam wrote on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 01:16 GMT
Jason,

No they do not match and yes I understand that. You think that these fundamental constant numbers or extreme differences just happen to form an equation by coincidence? Maybe you might consider some of what I have said about correcting the units of physics.

James

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Jason Wolfe replied on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 03:11 GMT
James,

So you believe that the units used in physics are wrong and to correct them, they should be changed to match h=kec. That's very bold of you.

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James Putnam replied on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 03:33 GMT
Jason,

I wouldn't put it that way. That equation was not stumbled upon. It is not the basis for conjecture about defining new units. It was derived as a consequence of many other changes that come well before it. Those changes have to do with eliminating the artificially introduced indefinable properties and their artificially indefinable units. The process begins all the way back at f=ma. Between force and mass which one shall we choose to be indefinable? The answers is neither. Both must retain direct connection to the empirical evidence that makes them known to us. That empirical evidence is always about changes of velocity. The units of velocity are arbitrary length and arbitrary duration. They are arbitrary because they are indefinable. They are assigned their values for reasons of convenience. After force and mass are correctly defined in terms of length and duration all else follows.

James

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Joe Blogs wrote on Jan. 17, 2011 @ 09:00 GMT
I have a thoery about the stock market being quantum.

Use Einsteins dice ordinary dice programmed to obey the rules 1 ODD+ 1 EVEN=2 ODD.

And 2 ODD+ 2 EVEN= 4 EVEN.

And create a cirtuyal quantum universe simulation on computer where quantum mechanics obey the determination of Einsteins dice.

So in this virtual world the stock market obeys quantum determinism.

You can use this determined world to create algorymns to make predictions about the real world..........

Email me at aircloud@bigpond.net.au for a copy of the dice.

I will be happy to send an SWF file.

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Jason Wolfe replied on Jan. 17, 2011 @ 15:40 GMT
I think the market is based upon everyone's emotionally weighted perception of the market and world events. Sometimes decisions are based on facts. Other times, when facts are not available, we fill in the facts with our mood and general outlook of the market.

In other words, if there is any kind of financial alchemy available, it should be implemented. While we're at it, it's probably good advice to ignore 90% of the news.

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Author Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Apr. 30, 2011 @ 16:34 GMT
Ultimately, quantum effects combine and include visible and invisible space.

Quantum effects in macroscopic objects are seen in dreams, when staring at something for an extended time, and when bringing something close to the eye.

Quantum gravity requires that opposites be combined and balanced. Inertial and gravitational equivalency fundamentally balances attraction and repulsion and fundamentally stabilizes and balances distance in/of space in conjunction with space manifesting as gravitational/electromagnetic/inertial energy. Quantum gravity requires that space be both visible and invisible, in a balanced fashion. Here we unify gravity and electromagnetism. Quantum gravity requires that space be flattened/contracted AND stretched/expanded in keeping with balanced attraction and repulsion and gravitational/inertial equivalency.

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Joe Fisher wrote on Sep. 15, 2016 @ 15:39 GMT
Dear Orem,

I have observed that the real observable Universe must be of the simplest physical construction obtainable, and the simplest visible observable construction that can be seen by any real observer am unified infinite surface that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light. There are no separated objects or invisible space anywhere in the real Universe.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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