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Previous Programs

2020 Consciousness in the Physical World
Awardees

2019 Intelligence in the Physical World
Awardees

2019 Information as Fuel
Awardees

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
Awardees; RFP download

2015 The Physics of What Happens
Awardees; RFP download

2013 Physics of Information
Awardees; RFP download

2010 The Nature of Time
Awardees; RFP download

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

Dr. Robert W. Spekkens
University of Cambridge

Co-Investigators

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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