Toolbox for reconstructing quantum theory from rules on information acquisition

Philipp Andres Höhn

Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, 31 Caroline Street North, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 2Y5

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We develop an operational approach for reconstructing the quantum theory of qubit systems from elementary rules on information acquisition. The focus lies on an observer $O$ interrogating a system $S$ with binary questions and $S$'s state is taken as $O$'s `catalogue of knowledge' about $S$. The mathematical tools of the framework are simple and we attempt to highlight all underlying assumptions. Four rules are imposed, asserting (1) a limit on the amount of information available to $O$; (2) the mere existence of complementary information; (3) $O$'s total amount of information to be preserved in-between interrogations; and, (4) $O$'s `catalogue of knowledge' to change continuously in time in-between interrogations and every consistent such evolution to be possible. This approach permits a {\it constructive} derivation of quantum theory, elucidating how the ensuing independence, complementarity and compatibility structure of $O$'s questions matches that of projective measurements in quantum theory, how entanglement and monogamy of entanglement, non-locality and, more generally, how the correlation structure of arbitrarily many qubits and rebits arises. The rules yield a reversible time evolution and a quadratic measure, quantifying $O$'s information about $S$. Finally, it is shown that the four rules admit two solutions for the simplest case of a single elementary system: the Bloch ball and disc as state spaces for a qubit and rebit, respectively, together with their symmetries as time evolution groups. The reconstruction for arbitrarily many qubits is completed in a companion paper [P. A. Höhn and C. S. P. Wever, Phys. Rev. A 95 (2017) 012102] where an additional rule eliminates the rebit case. This approach is inspired by (but does not rely on) the relational interpretation and yields a novel formulation of quantum theory in terms of questions.


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