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A Kochen-Specker System Has at Least 22 Vectors


At the heart of the Conway-Kochen Free Will Theorem and Kochen and Specker’s argument against non-contextual hidden variable theories is the existence of a Kochen-Specker (KS) system: a set of points on the sphere that has no {0,1}-coloring such that at most one of two orthogonal points are colored 1 and of three pairwise orthogonal points exactly one is colored 1. In public lectures, Conway encouraged the search for small KS systems. At the time of writing, the smallest known KS system has 31 vectors.

Arends, Ouaknine and Wampler have shown that a KS system has at least 18 vectors, by reducing the problem to the existence of graphs with a topological embeddability and non-colorability property. The bottleneck in their search proved to be the sheer number of graphs on more than 17 vertices and deciding embeddability.

Continuing their effort, we prove a restriction on the class of graphs we need to consider and develop a more practical decision procedure for embeddability to improve the lower bound to 22.

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Correspondence to Sander Uijlen.

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Uijlen, S., Westerbaan, B. A Kochen-Specker System Has at Least 22 Vectors. New Gener. Comput. 34, 3–23 (2016).

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  • North Pole
  • Antipodal Point
  • Embeddable Graph
  • Topological Embeddability
  • Cylindrical Algebraic Decomposition