October 12, 2006

PIQM ontological affirmations

The Pondicherry interpretation of quantum mechanics
I just added The Pondicherry interpretation of quantum mechanics to Wikipedia. There is no telling what’s going to happen to it, so here’s the original. (Note: links to other Wikipedia articles are in bold but, except for the first para, not actually hyperlinked from this post.)
The Pondicherry interpretation of quantum mechanics (PIQM) was developed by Ulrich Mohrhoff, who teaches at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry), India — hence the name.
From the mathematical point of view, quantum mechanics is a generalized probability calculus. Quantum states — including density operators and wavefunctions — are algorithms for calculating the probabilities of the possible outcomes of measurements on the basis of actual measurement outcomes. They take as their input (i) one or more measurement outcomes, (ii) a measurement M, and (iii) the time of M. They yield as their output the probabilities of the possible outcomes of M. In other words, quantum states encapsulate correlations between measurement outcomes.
Quantum mechanics — in the inclusive sense that makes no distinction between quantum mechanics, quantum physics, and quantum theory — is also the general theoretical framework of contemporary physics. Thus there exists a wide gulf between the laboratory use of quantum mechanics and its ontology. The aim of interpretations of quantum mechanics is to bridge this gulf, or else to explain why that aim is unachievable.
The PIQM offers an objective description of the world, free from invocations of consciousness, knowledge, or purposeful experimental interventions, without construing any element of the quantum-mechanical probability calculus as representing a state of affairs of some kind. It arrives at its ontological affirmations by analyzing quantum-mechanical probability assignments in various measurement contexts. Written by Ulrich Mohrhoff October 10th, 2006 at 8:09 am

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