Some Negative Remarks on Operational Approaches to Quantum Theory

  • Christopher A. Fuchs
  • Blake C. Stacey
Part of the Fundamental Theories of Physics book series (FTPH, volume 181)


Over the last 10 years there has been an explosion of “operational reconstructions” of quantum theory. This is great stuff: For, through it, we come to see the myriad ways in which the quantum formalism can be chopped into primitives and, through clever toil, brought back together to form a smooth whole. An image of an IQ-Block puzzle comes to mind, There is no doubt that this is invaluable work, particularly for our understanding of the intricate connections between so many quantum information protocols. But to me, it seems to miss the mark for an ultimate understanding of quantum theory; I am left hungry. I still want to know what strange property of matter forces this formalism upon our information accounting. To play on something Einstein once wrote to Max Born, “The quantum reconstructions are certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that they are not yet the real thing. The reconstructions say a lot, but do not really bring us any closer to the secret of the ‘old one’.” In this talk, I hope to expand on these points and convey some sense of why I am fascinated with the problem of the symmetric informationally complete POVMs to an extent greater than axiomatic reconstructions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Raytheon BBN TechnologiesCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Martin A. Fisher School of PhysicsBrandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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