Completeness of quantum theory implies that wave functions are physical properties
- Working Paper
Given the wave function associated with a physical system, quantum theory allows us to compute predictions for the outcomes of any measurement. Since, within quantum theory, a wave function corresponds to an extremal state and is therefore maximally informative, one possible view is that it can be considered an (objective) physical property of the system. However, an alternative view, often motivated by the probabilistic nature of quantum predictions, is that the wave function represents incomplete (subjective) knowledge about some underlying physical properties. Recently, Pusey et al. [arXiv:1111.3328, 2011] showed that the latter, subjective interpretation would contradict certain physically plausible assumptions, in particular that it is possible to prepare multiple systems such that their (possibly hidden) physical properties are uncorrelated. Here we present a novel argument, showing that a subjective interpretation of the wave function can be ruled out as a consequence of the completeness of quantum theory. This allows us to establish that wave functions are physical properties, using only minimal assumptions. Specifically, the (necessary) assumptions are that quantum theory correctly predicts the statistics of measurement outcomes and that measurement settings can (in principle) be chosen freely Show more
Pages / Article No.
Organisational unit03781 - Renner, Renato
NotesSubmitted 28 November 2011.
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