International Journal of Theoretical Physics

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 785–814

Topos theory and consistent histories: The internal logic of the set of all consistent sets

  • C. J. Isham

DOI: 10.1007/BF02435786

Cite this article as:
Isham, C.J. Int J Theor Phys (1997) 36: 785. doi:10.1007/BF02435786


A major problem in the consistent-histories approach to quantum theory is contending with the potentially large number of consistent sets of history propositions. One possibility is to find a scheme in which a unique set is selected in some way. However, in this paper the alternative approach is considered in which all consistent sets are kept, leading to a type of ‘many-world-views’ picture of the quantum theory. It is shown that a natural way of handling this situation is to employ the theory of varying sets (presheafs) on the spaceB of all nontrivial Boolean subalgebras of the orthoalgebraUP of history propositions. This approach automatically includes the feature whereby probabilistic predictions are meaningful only in the context of a consistent set of history propositions. More strikingly, it leads to a picture in which the ‘truth values’ or ‘semantic values’ of such contextual predictions are not just two-valued (i.e., true and false) but instead lie in a larger logical algebra—a Heyting algebra—whose structure is determined by the spaceB of Boolean subalgebras ofUP. This topos-theoretic structure thereby gives a coherent mathematical framework in which to understand the internal logic of the many-world-views picture that arises naturally in the approach to quantum theory based on the ideas of consistent histories.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. J. Isham
    • 1
  1. 1.Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College of ScienceTechnology and MedicineLondonUK