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Title: A process theoretic triptych : two roads to the emergence of classicality, reconstructing quantum theory from diagrams, looking for post-quantum theories
Author: Selby, John Harry
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 6111
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis asks what can be learnt about quantum theory by investigating it from the perspective of process theories. This is based on the diagrammatic compositional structure of Categorical Quantum Mechanics, leading to a very general framework to describe alternate theories of nature. In particular this framework is well suited to understanding the relationship between different theories. In the first part of the thesis we investigate the relationship between quantum and classical theory, showing how an abstract description of decoherence in terms of leaking information leads to emergent classicality. Moreover, this process theoretic notion of a 'leak' allows us to capture the distinction between quantum and classical theory in a particularly simple way, highlighting how the quantum and classical worlds diverge. In the second part we look at how to reconstruct quantum theory from diagrammatic principles showing that i) the existence of a classical interface with the theory plus ii) standard notions of composition and iii) a time symmetric form of purification are sufficient to reconstruct the standard quantum formalism. Thereby demonstrating that the standard tools of Categorical Quantum Mechanics come very close to capturing the essence of quantum theory. In the third part we abstract the key features of this emergence of classicality to define a notion of 'hyperdecoherence' whereby some post-quantum theory might appear quantum due to an uncontrolled interaction with an environment. We prove a no-go theorem which states that any operational post-quantum theory must violate the purification principle, and so must radically challenge our understanding of how information behaves. To summarise, we use the framework of process theories to gain a better understanding of quantum theory, its sub-theories, and its potential super-theories.
Supervisor: Coecke, Bob ; Rudolph, Terence Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral