, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 253-276
Date: 12 Jan 2007

Branch Dependence in the “Consistent Histories” Approach to Quantum Mechanics

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In the consistent histories formalism one specifies a family of histories as an exhaustive set of pairwise exclusive descriptions of the dynamics of a quantum system. We define branching families of histories, which strike a middle ground between the two available mathematically precise definitions of families of histories, viz., product families and Isham’s history projector operator formalism. The former are too narrow for applications, and the latter’s generality comes at a certain cost, barring an intuitive reading of the “histories”. Branching families retain the intuitiveness of product families, they allow for the interpretation of a history’s weight as a probability, and they allow one to distinguish two kinds of coarse-graining, leading to reconsidering the motivation for the consistency condition.