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Title: The form and interpretation of the decoherence functional
Author: Wilkes, Henry Luka
ISNI:       0000 0004 7963 8129
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2019
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In this thesis we will explore the development of a realist quantum theory based on the decoherence functional using the co-event interpretation of Quantum Measure Theory. The Sum-Over-Histories theory of quantum mechanics will provide the bedding for a Hilbert-space-free stochastic-like theory that can accommodate spacetime-like objects, and can therefore be applied to quantum gravity and cosmology, as well as give an alternative perspective on quantum phenomena. The primitive objects of the theory are histories, which give different accounts of a system's evolution, and the decoherence functional, which sums the quantum interference between these histories. Quantum Measure Theory and Generalised Quantum Mechanics (a theory close to Decoherent Histories) then give alternative interpretations of the decoherence functional's relation to reality. In these theories, the decoherence functional is mathematically constrained in analogue to probability measures. However, one of the conditions, called weak positivity, can be lost under composition of isolated systems. We will extend this composition argument to take the case for a stronger condition of strong positivity for decoherence functionals. The bulk of the report will then focus on the co-event interpretation of Quantum Measure Theory, where co-events give full accounts of which events do or do not occur for a given system. The quantum nature of reality is expressed through the breaking of classical logic within these co-event descriptions. We will focus on evolving co-event schemes, which dynamically construct co-events to describe the reality of an evolving system in tandem with its progression. The evolving co-event schemes will be shown to reproduce classical logic when they are applied to classical systems. Moreover, similar to classical stochastic theory, these schemes will be shown to be invariant under the inclusion or exclusion of non-interfering histories. We will also explore a number of outstanding problems for these schemes, and will propose some potential modifications.
Supervisor: Dowker, Fay Sponsor: Science and Technology Facilities Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral