Title:

Issues of control and causation in quantum information theory

Issues of control and causation are central to the Quantum Theory of Computation. Yet there is no place for them in fundamental laws of Physics when expressed in the prevailing conception, i.e., in terms of initial conditions and laws of motion. This thesis aims at arguing that Constructor Theory, recently proposed by David Deutsch to generalise the quantum theory of computation, is a candidate to provide a theory of control and causation within Physics. To this end, I shall present a physical theory of information that is formulated solely in constructortheoretic terms, i.e., in terms of which transformations of physical systems are possible and which are impossible. This theory solves the circularity at the foundations of existing information theory; it provides a unifying relation between classical and quantum information, revealing the single property underlying the most distinctive phenomena associated with the latter: the unpredictability of the outcomes of some deterministic processes, the lack of distinguishability of some states, the irreducible perturbation caused by measurement and the existence of locally inaccessible information in composite systems (entanglement). This thesis also aims to investigate the restrictions that quantum theory imposes on copyinglike tasks. To this end, I will propose a unifying, pictureindependent formulation of the nocloning theorem. I will also discuss a protocol to accomplish the closely related task of transferring perfectly a quantum state along a spin chain, in the presence of systematic errors. Furthermore, I will address the problem of whether selfreplication (as it occurs in living organisms) is compatible with Quantum Mechanics. Some physicists, notably Wigner, have argued that this logic is in fact forbidden by Quantum Mechanics, thus claiming that the latter is not a universal theory. I shall prove that those claims are invalid and that the logic of selfreplication is, of course, compatible with Quantum Mechanics.
