A Matter of Principle: The Principles of Quantum Theory, Dirac’s Equation, and Quantum Information

Foundations of Physics 45 (10):1222-1268 (2015)

Abstract

This article is concerned with the role of fundamental principles in theoretical physics, especially quantum theory. The fundamental principles of relativity will be addressed as well, in view of their role in quantum electrodynamics and quantum field theory, specifically Dirac’s work, which, in particular Dirac’s derivation of his relativistic equation of the electron from the principles of relativity and quantum theory, is the main focus of this article. I shall also consider Heisenberg’s earlier work leading him to the discovery of quantum mechanics, which inspired Dirac’s work. I argue that Heisenberg’s and Dirac’s work was guided by their adherence to and their confidence in the fundamental principles of quantum theory. The final section of the article discusses the recent work by D’Ariano and coworkers on the principles of quantum information theory, which extend quantum theory and its principles in a new direction. This extension enabled them to offer a new derivation of Dirac’s equations from these principles alone, without using the principles of relativity

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