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Summary The transactional interpretation is a realistic interpretation of quantum mechanic. It has a close relationship with Bohmian mechanics, and is motivated by restoring local causality within hidden-variable models. The interpretation posits a quantum state consisting of both an advanced and retarded wave; it accordingly allows for backwards causation (retrocausality).
Key works Local causality appears to be threatened by the argument due to Einstein et al 1935; their argument was sharpened by the work of Bell 2004Cramer 1986 is responsible for the term 'transactional interpretation'. Quantum retrocausal ideas have been explored in many different forms, with the earliest being the work of de Beauregard 1953
Introductions Cramer 1988
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  1. David Atkinson, Quantum Mechanics and Retrocausality.
    The classical electrodynamics of point charges can be made finite by the introduction of effects that temporally precede their causes. The idea of retrocausality is also inherent in the Feynman propagators of quantum electrodynamics. The notion allows a new understanding of the violation of the Bell inequalities, and of the world view revealed by quantum mechanics. Published in The Universe, Visions and Perspectives, edited by N. Dadhich and A. Kembhavi, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000, pages 35-50.
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  2. Jean-Sébastien Boisvert & Louis Marchildon (2013). Absorbers in the Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Foundations of Physics 43 (3):294-309.
    The transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics, following the time-symmetric formulation of electrodynamics, uses retarded and advanced solutions of the Schrödinger equation and its complex conjugate to understand quantum phenomena by means of transactions. A transaction occurs between an emitter and a specific absorber when the emitter has received advanced waves from all possible absorbers. Advanced causation always raises the specter of paradoxes, and it must be addressed carefully. In particular, different devices involving contingent absorbers or various types of interaction-free measurements (...)
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  3. John Cramer, A Farewell to Copenhagen?
    This column is about experimental tests of the various interpretations of quantum mechanics. The question at issue is whether we can perform experiments that can show whether there is an "observer-created reality" as suggested by the Copenhagen Interpretation, or a peacock’s tail of rapidly branching alternate universes, as suggested by the Many-Worlds Interpretation, or forward-backward in time handshakes, as suggested by the Transactional Interpretation? Until recently, I would have said that this was an impossible task, but a new experiment has (...)
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  4. John G. Cramer (1988). An Overview of the Transactional Interpretation. International Journal of Theoretical Physics 27 (227):1-5.
    The transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics is summarized and various points concerning the transactional interpretation and its relation to the Copenhagen interpretation are considered. Questions concerning mapping the transactional interpretation onto the Copenhagen interpretation, of advanced waves as solutions to proper wave equations, of collapse and the quantum formalism, and of the relation of quantum mechanical interpretations to experimental tests and results are discussed.
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  5. John G. Cramer (1986). The Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Reviews of Modern Physics 58 (3):647-687.
    Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics deals with these problems is reviewed. A new interpretation of the formalism of quantum mechanics, the transactional interpretation, is presented. The basic element of this interpretation is the transaction describing a quantum event as an exchange of advanced and retarded waves, as implied by the work of Wheeler and Feynman, Dirac, and others. The transactional interpretation is explicitly nonlocal and thereby consistent with recent tests of the Bell inequality, yet is relativistically invariant and fully causal. (...)
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  6. Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky & Nathan Rosen (1935). Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete? Physical Review (47):777-780.
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  7. Ruth Kastner (2010). The Quantum Liar Experiment in Cramer's Transactional Interpretation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 41 (2):86-92.
    Cramer's Transactional Interpretation (TI) is applied to the ``Quantum Liar Experiment'' (QLE). It is shown how some apparently paradoxical features can be explained naturally, albeit nonlocally (since TI is an explicitly nonlocal interpretation). At the same time, it is proposed that in order to preserve the elegance and economy of the interpretation, it may be necessary to consider offer and confirmation waves as propagating in a ``higher space'' of possibilities.
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  8. Ruth Kastner, Why Everettians Should Appreciate the Transactional Interpretation.
    The attractive feature of the Everett approach is its admirable spirit of approaching the quantum puzzle with a Zen-like "beginner’s mind" in order to try to envision what the pure formalism might be saying about quantum reality, even if that journey leads to a strange place. It is argued that the transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics (TI), appropriately interpreted, shares the same motivation and achieves much more, with far fewer conceptual perplexities, by taking into account heretofore overlooked features of the (...)
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  9. Ruth Kastner (2006). Cramer's Transactional Interpretation and Causal Loop Problems. Synthese 150 (1):1 - 14.
    Tim Maudlin's argument for the inconsistency of Cramer's Transactional Interpretation (TI) of quantum theory has been considered in some detail by Joseph Berkovitz, who has provided a possible solution to this challenge at the cost of a significant empirical lacuna on the part of TI. The present paper proposes an alternative solution in which Maudlin's charge of inconsistency is evaded but at no cost of empirical content on the part of TI. However, Maudlin's argument is taken as ruling out Cramer's (...)
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  10. Ruth E. Kastner (2008). The Transactional Interpretation, Counterfactuals, and Weak Values in Quantum Theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 39 (4):806-818.
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  11. Ruth E. Kastner (2006). Cramer's Transactional Interpretation and Causal Loop Problems. Synthese 150 (1):1 - 14.
    Tim Maudlin’s argument for the inconsistency of Cramer’s Transactional Interpretation (TI) of quantum theory has been considered in some detail by Joseph Berkovitz, who has provided a possible solution to this challenge at the cost of a significant empirical lacuna on the part of TI. The present paper proposes an alternative solution in which Maudlin’s charge of inconsistency is evaded but at no cost of empirical content on the part of TI. However, Maudlin’s argument is taken as ruling out Cramer’s (...)
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  12. H. B. Nielsen (2011). Imaginary Part of Action, Future Functioning as Hidden Variables. Foundations of Physics 41 (3):608-635.
    Beginning with a review the logically first stages in the project of Random Dynamics, hoping for all laws nature being emergent, we also review what can be considered a consequence of Random Dynamics, a model—by myself and Masao Ninomiya—, which in principle predicts the initial conditions in such a way as to minimize a certain functional of the history of the Universe through both past and future. This functional is indeed the imaginary part of the action, which exists (only) in (...)
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  13. C. W. Rietdijk (1987). Retroactive Effects From Measurements. Foundations of Physics 17 (3):297-311.
    We consider several thought and practical experiments, and variations thereof, from which the existence can be inferred of retroactive effects on the assumptions of conservation of linear and angular momentum and of realism defined in a wide sense. Such conclusion is made less counterintuitive by research into the proper physical background of the relativistic length contraction of a moving arrow, viz. the fact that the universe is four-dimensional indeed. In one of the experiments considered, the evidence of retroactivity is more (...)
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  14. C. W. Rietdijk (1981). Another Proof That the Future Can Influence the Present. Foundations of Physics 11 (9-10):783-790.
    A modified Young double-slit experiment proposed by Wootters and Zurek is considered in which a system P of parallel plates covered with a photographic emulsion has been set up in the region where we would normally expect the central interference fringes. Because under certain conditions P makes it possible to conclude with much more than50% certainty through which of the two slits each particular photon passed, the relevant interference pattern becomes blurred. It is proved that this implies a retroactive effect (...)
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  15. C. W. Rietdijk (1980). A Microrealistic Explanation of Fundamental Quantum Phenomena. Foundations of Physics 10 (5-6):403-457.
    We abandon as redundant the assumption that there exists something more in the physical world than action quanta, which constitute the atoms of the events of which the four-dimensional world consists. We derive metric, energy, matter, etc., from action and the structure formed by the quanta. In the microworld thequantization of space so introduced implies deviations from conventional metrics that make it possible in particular to explain nonlocality. The uncertainty relations, then, in conjunction with the action-based metric, appear to play (...)
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  16. C. W. Rietdijk (1977). How Do “Virtual” Photons and Mesons Transmit Forces Between Charged Particles and Nucleons? Foundations of Physics 7 (5-6):351-374.
    Examining the process of action at a distance, we arrive at the following conclusions: (a) The virtual photons and mesons transmitting Coulomb and nuclear forces, respectively, do not arise from “temporary violations of energy conservation,” but, on the contrary, exactly embody the potential energy corresponding to the relevant forceF that they transmit on their collision with the charged particles or nucleons via the formula Δp=FΔt. (b) In the case of an attractive force, the energy of these photons and mesons is (...)
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