Large Grants
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Current Program

2017-18 Agency in the Physical World
Submit RFP by February 1, 2018
Previous Programs

2016 Physics of the Observer
2016 Awardees

2015 The Physics of What Happens
2015 Awardees

2013 Physics of Information
2013 Awardees

2010 The Nature of Time
2010 Awardees

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
2008 Awardees

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
2006 Awardees

Dr. Robert W. Spekkens
University of Cambridge


Jonathan Barrett, Perimeter Institute
Anthony Short, University of Bristol

Project Title

Operational probabilistic theories as foils to quantum theory

Project Summary

The interpretation of quantum theory is a subject of significant controversy; there is simply no agreement about what this abstract mathematical theory is telling us about the nature of reality. One strategy for progress on this front is to try to identify a set of physical principles that are sufficient to derive all aspects of the theory, to pick it out from a set of alternatives - foils against which it can be compared. Ideally, one would like to consider the broadest possible class of such foil theories. Typically, however, one's preconceptions and tacit assumptions about the nature of reality tend to restrict this class. To avoid this pitfall, it is useful to describe theories entirely in terms of the observable consequences of experimental procedures, that is, operationally. Recent research into operational probabilistic theories has been improving our understanding of quantum theory. However, thus far this research has been fragmented and focused on particular foil theories rather than on identifying the similarities and differences of broad classes of such theories. This workshop will bring together researchers with a diversity of approaches to share techniques and results, investigate connections between different programs of research, and broaden our perspectives on the issues.

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