Graduate studies at Western
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2008)
|Abstract||Interference phenomena are a well-known and crucial feature of quantum mechanics, the two-slit experiment providing a standard example. There are situations, however, in which interference effects are (artificially or spontaneously) suppressed. We shall need to make precise what this means, but the theory of decoherence is the study of (spontaneous) interactions between a system and its environment that lead to such suppression of interference. This study includes detailed modelling of system-environment interactions, derivation of equations (‘master equations’) for the (reduced) state of the system, discussion of time-scales etc. A discussion of the concept of suppression of interference and a simplified survey of the theory is given in Section 2, emphasising features that will be relevant to the following discussion (and restricted to standard non-relativistic particle quantum mechanics. A partially overlapping field is that of decoherent histories, which proceeds from an abstract definition of loss of interference, but which we shall not be considering in any detail|
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