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Previous Programs

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

Antonio Acín
The Institute of Photonic Sciences


Rafael Chaves, Freiburg University; Matty Hoban, Oxford University; Raymond Lal, Oxford University

Project Title

Quantum Bayesian networks: the physics of nonlocal events

Project Summary

Cause and effect are at the heart of science. We aim to explain observations through their causes, both direct and indirect. If we observe that certain occurrences always coincide, e.g. it getting both darker and cooler in the evening, they can often be explained by a common cause (the sun setting in our example). Quantum physics provides a major obstacle to understanding such correlated phenomena through a common cause explanation. This obstruction comes in the form of quantum non-locality, something Einstein called ‘spooky action at a distance’. The study of causality has been formalized in the past few decades within the field of computer science. The motivation for this study came from trying to understand how machines with artificial intelligence can reason about data they obtain in such a way to make informed decisions. Only very recently have there been earnest attempts to integrate research from this community into the study of quantum theory. The key question is now: how do we reason about quantum data and the correlations they exhibit? We aim to support a community of researchers that will address this very question.

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