We propose that observables in quantum theory are properly understood as representatives of symmetry-invariant quantities relating one system to another, the latter to be called a reference system. We provide a rigorous mathematical language to introduce and study quantum reference systems, showing that the orthodox “absolute” quantities are good representatives of observable relative quantities if the reference state is suitably localised. We use this relational formalism to critique the literature on the relationship between reference frames and superselection rules, settling a (...) long-standing debate on the subject. (shrink)
A coherent account of the connections and contrasts between the principles of complementarity and uncertainty is developed starting from a survey of the various formalizations of these principles. The conceptual analysis is illustrated by means of a set of experimental schemes based on Mach-Zehnder interferometry. In particular, path detection via entanglement with a probe system and (quantitative) quantum erasure are exhibited to constitute instances of joint unsharp measurements of complementary pairs of physical quantities, path and interference observables. The analysis uses (...) the representation of observables as positive-operator-valued measures (POVMs). The reconciliation of complementary experimental options in the sense of simultaneous unsharp preparations and measurements is expressed in terms of uncertainty relations of different kinds. The feature of complementarity, manifest in the present examples in the mutual exclusivity of path detection and interference observation, is recovered as a limit case from the appropriate uncertainty relation. It is noted that the complementarity and uncertainty principles are neither completely logically independent nor logical consequences of one another. Since entanglement is an instance of the uncertainty of quantum properties (of compound systems), it is moot to play out uncertainty and entanglement against each other as possible mechanisms enforcing complementarity. (shrink)
The discussion of a particular kind of interpretation of the energy-time uncertainty relation, the “pragmatic time” version of the ETUR outlined in Part I of this work [measurement duration (pragmatic time) versus uncertainty of energy disturbance or measurement inaccuracy] is reviewed. Then the Aharonov-Bohm counter-example is reformulated within the modern quantum theory of unsharp measurements and thereby confirmed in a rigorous way.
In a period of over 50 years, Peter Mittelstaedt has made substantial and lasting contributions to several fields in theoretical physics as well as the foundations and philosophy of physics. Here we present an overview of his achievements in physics and its foundations which may serve as a guide to the bibliography (printed in this Festschrift) of his publications. An appraisal of Peter Mittelstaedt’s work in the philosophy of physics is given in a separate contribution by B. Falkenburg.
The weak objectification of physical properties is shown to yield the same probabilistic implications as strong objectification and can therefore be refuted on the basis of suitable interference experiments. An alternative test of hypothetical objectification statements, as they occur in the EPR experiment, is based on joint probabilities and the ensuing Bell inequalities. Quantum mechanics turns out to be partially compatible with Bell's inequalities even in cases where weak objectification is excluded by interference.
The positive operator (valued) measures (POMs) allow one to generalize the notion of observable beyond the traditional one based on projection valued measures (PVMs). Here, we argue that this generalized conception of observable enables a consistent notion of unsharp reality and with it an adequate concept of joint properties. A sharp or unsharp property manifests itself as an element of sharp or unsharp reality by its tendency to become actual or to actualize a specific measurement outcome. This actualization tendency—or potentiality—of (...) a property is quantified by the associated quantum probability. The resulting single-case interpretation of probability as a degree of reality will be explained in detail and its role in addressing the tensions between quantum and classical accounts of the physical world will be elucidated. It will be shown that potentiality can be viewed as a causal agency that evolves in a well-defined way. (shrink)
Noncommuting quantum observables, if considered asunsharp observables, are simultaneously measurable. This fact is exemplified for complementary observables in two-dimensional state spaces. Two proposals of experimentally feasible joint measurements are presented for pairs of photon or neutron polarization observables and for path and interference observables in a photon split-beam experiment. A recent experiment proposed and performed by Mittelstaedt, Prieur, and Schieder in Cologne is interpreted as a partial version of the latter example.
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is usually taken to express a limitation of operational possibilities imposed by quantum mechanics. Here we demonstrate that the full content of this principle also includes its positive role as a condition ensuring that mutually exclusive experimental options can be reconciled if an appropriate trade-off is accepted. The uncertainty principle is shown to appear in three manifestations, in the form of uncertainty relations: for the widths of the position and momentum distributions in any quantum state; for the (...) inaccuracies of any joint measurement of these quantities; and for the inaccuracy of a measurement of one of the quantities and the ensuing disturbance in the distribution of the other quantity. Whilst conceptually distinct, these three kinds of uncertainty relations are shown to be closely related formally. Finally, we survey models and experimental implementations of joint measurements of position and momentum and comment briefly on the status of experimental tests of the uncertainty principle. (shrink)
The standard model of the quantum theory of measurement is based on an interaction Hamiltonian in which the observable to be measured is multiplied by some observable of a probe system. This simple Ansatz has proved extremely fruitful in the development of the foundations of quantum mechanics. While the ensuing type of models has often been argued to be rather artificial, recent advances in quantum optics have demonstrated their principal and practical feasibility. A brief historical review of the standard model (...) together with an outline of its virtues and limitations are presented as an illustration of the mutual inspiration that has always taken place between foundational and experimental research in quantum physics. (shrink)
The problem of the validity and interpretation of the energy-time uncertainty relation is briefly reviewed and reformulated in a systematic way. The Bohr-Einsteinphoton-box gedanken experiment is seen to illustrate the complementarity of energy andevent time. A more recent experiment with amplitude-modulated Mößbauer quanta yields evidence for the genuine quantum indeterminacy of event time. In this way, event time arises as a quantum observable.
The quantum theory of sequential measurements is worked out and is employed to provide an operational analysis of basic measurement theoretical notions such as coexistence, correlations, repeatability, and ideality. The problem of the operational definition of continuous observables is briefly revisited, with a special emphasis on the localization observable. Finally, a brief overview is given of possible applications of the theory to various fields and problems in quantum physics.
Uncertainty relations and complementarity of canonically conjugate position and momentum observables in quantum theory are discussed with respect to some general coupling properties of a function and its Fourier transform. The question of joint localization of a particle on bounded position and momentum value sets and the relevance of this question to the interpretation of position-momentum uncertainty relations is surveyed. In particular, it is argued that the Heisenberg interpretation of the uncertainty relations can consistently be carried through in a natural (...) extension of the usual Hilbert space frame of the quantum theory. (shrink)
The determination of the past and the future of a physical system are complementary aims of measurements. An optimal determination of the past of a system can be achieved by an informationally complete set of physical quantities. Such a set is always strongly noncommutative. An optimal determination of the future of a physical system can be obtained by a Boolean complete set of quantities. The two aims can be reconciled to a reasonable degree with using unsharp measurements.
The University of Cologne and the international community of researchers in foundations of physics mourn the loss of Peter Mittelstaedt, who passed away on November 21, 2014, after a short period of illness. Peter Mittelstaedt held a chair in theoretical physics at the University of Cologne from 1965 until his retirement in 1995. In addition to his engagement as a scientist and academic teacher he was elected first as Dean of the Faculty of Science and then Rector of the University (...) of Cologne . Subsequently he served as Prorector and Prorector for Research . He was an elected member of l’Académie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences and founding member and president of the International Quantum Structures Association .Peter Mittelstaedt was born in Leipzig on November 24, 1929. In his childhood home he may already have witnessed the spirit of philosophical discourse about the world-picture of modern physics. For Werner Heis .. (shrink)
The question of quantifying the sharpness (or unsharpness) of a quantum mechanical effect is investigated. Apart from sharpness, another property, bias, is found to be relevant for the joint measurability or coexistence of two effects. Measures of bias will be defined and examples given.
Recent advantages in experimental quantum physics call for a careful reconsideration of the measurement process in quantum mechanics. In this paper we describe the structure of the ideal measurements and their status among the repeatable measurements. Then we provide an exhaustive account of the interrelations between repeatability and the apparently weaker notions of value reproducible or first- kind measurements. We demonstrate the close link between repeatable measurements and discrete observables and show how the ensuing measurement limitations for continuous observables can (...) be lifted in a way that is in full accordance with actual experimental practice. We present examples of almost repeatable measurements of continuous observables and some realistic models of weakly disturbing measurements. (shrink)
Academic integrity is becoming increasingly important to managing academic institutions. Accordingly there are efforts to uniformly assess campus attitudes to such issues as cheating in assessments along with the policies and procedures in place to address them. This paper seeks to summarize and understand the attitude of the students and academic staff at an Australian university towards academic integrity, as reflected in the results of a campus-wide survey, using both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The main finding of the quantitative results (...) was the disconnect between academic staff and students belief’s about academic honesty and the reactions of students and academics to dishonest behaviour. Four key themes of academic honesty were identified through qualitative analysis, being those of cheating, student, solutions to cheating and general concerns. (shrink)