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Zenith Grant Awardee

Adrian Kent

University of Cambridge

Project Title

Information Theoretic Characterization of Quantum Reality

Project Summary

Quantum theory is the deepest and most successful theory of nature that we have, and yet it raises profound puzzles. It lets us calculate the outcomes of experiments, with great success, but gives no clear description or understanding of the nature of the physical world that we observe and are part of. One view is that quantum theory should ultimately be understood as describing the information physical systems in the world (for instance, agents like us) have or might have about other physical systems. Another is that quantum theory – or maybe more likely, quantum theory with some extra mathematical ingredients – describes an observer-independent objective physical reality. Both of these views have led to significant discoveries and insights about quantum theory. The aim of this project is to explore ways of combining these seemingly conflicting ideas, by finding a new observer-independent description of objective physical reality that can most naturally be understood in information-theoretic terms and that is demonstrably consistent with experiments and astronomical observations. To sloganize: neither It from Bit, nor Bit from It – rather Bit is It!

Technical Abstract

We aim to identify and demonstrate the validity of at least one new natural information theoretically defined solution to the quantum reality (aka measurement) problem. That is, a mathematical structure that is defined in quantum information theoretic terms, that respects Lorentz invariance and other symmetries, and that can sensibly be identified with an observer-independent objective physical reality in a way that is demonstrably consistent with observed data. We also aim to try to use the ideas developed to extend the class of Lorentz invariant theories to which quantum theory belongs and to identify new experimental tests of quantum theory. The project will build on published work by the PI and other researchers in quantum foundations, together with as yet unpublished work of the PI, developed over several years.

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