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Quantisation and prediction: Another look at the aim and structure of quantum theory.

Delhotel, Jean-Michel (2004) Quantisation and prediction: Another look at the aim and structure of quantum theory. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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It is argued (Part A) that quantum mechanics can be derived as a principle-based dynamical framework, the basic equation of which is an alternative form of the Hamilton-Jacobi equation. Schrodinger's equation obtains as a result of linearising that equation, and so-called wave functions can be given no straightforward physical interpretation. It is suggested, partly in relation to a theorem by Gromov, that a finite action quantum would make it practically inevitable, for purposes of prediction, to resort to a probabilistic formulation. The structure of the space of square-integrable solutions of the Schrodinger equation happens to lend itself to the introduction of the appropriate kind of predictive scheme. Investigating the nature and scope of such a scheme is the subject of Part B. It is shown that basic features of the formalism of quantum theory, like composition rules for 'amplitudes' or the 'Born' probability rule, can be derived independently of any physical assumptions. A generalisation of the basic formalism using tensor product composition appears to be required if all correlations are to be extracted from locally accessed data. A detailed discussion of quantum teleportation leads to the conclusion that a 'one-shot' account leads to a distorted picture of what is actually achieved. An analogy with classical cryptography is made and the statistical significance of the 'transfer', which does not require introducing any novel form of 'quantum information', is emphasised. Results obtained over the last decade using the extended formalism of positive operator-valued measures are reviewed and discussed. These lend further support to the idea that the set of basic 'quantum' rules functions as a general kind of probabilistic scheme for prediction, the structural features of which are not constrained in any direct way by the underlying physics. On the other hand, the very existence of such a predictive framework hinges on selecting a particular class of solutions of the Schrodinger equation, which selection has been incorrectly interpreted as reflecting a physical necessity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

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