Deciphering Quantum Theory (2010)

Philip Goyal

Quantum theory poses deep challenges to the mechanical conception of reality that underlies classical physics. Yet today, over eighty years after its creation, its implications for our picture of reality remain enshrouded in uncertainty. In view of the current search for a more comprehensive theory of physics, it is vital that these implications be clearly elucidated. In this article, I describe the nature of the challenge posed by quantum theory, and outline efforts that have been made to better understand its non-classical features, such as non-locality. In particular, I discuss the informational perspective, which, through the study of quantum information processing, has provided deep insights into the nature of quantum reality, and has also revitalized the long-standing quest to reconstruct the content of the rather mysterious mathematical formalism of quantum theory from a set of crisp physical principles. Finally, I indicate some implications of recent reconstructive work for the search for a theory of quantum gravity, and, more broadly, for our picture of physical reality.

Published in "Are we there yet? The search for a theory of everything", Ed. M. Emam (Bentham Press, 2011)

What is Quantum Theory telling us about how Nature works? (2009)

Philip Goyal

Quantum theory is an extraordinarily successful physical theory. But what does it mean? What implications does it have for the mechanical conception of Nature that underlies classical physics? Remarkably, some eighty years after the creation of quantum theory, we still lack clear answers to these questions. In this paper, we discuss the nature of the obstacles that stand in our way, and describe recent work to overcome them by attempting to reconstruct the mathematics of quantum theory from a small number of simple physical ideas.

Published in Proceedings of the First Interdisciplinary CHESS conference, ed. C Rangacharyulu & E. Haven (World Scientific, 2010)

Presented at
CHESS (Computer Science, Humanities, Education/Engineering/Economics, Science) Interactions Conference