Montag, 16. Januar 2012

The Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

So far on this blog, I have argued that quantum mechanics should be most aptly seen as a generalization of probability theory, necessary to account for complementary propositions (propositions which can't jointly be known exactly). Quantum mechanics can then be seen to emerge either as a generalization (more accurately, a deformation) of statistical mechanics on phase space, or, more abstractly (but cleaner in a conceptual sense) as deriving from quantum logic in the same way classical probability derives from classical, i.e. Boolean, logic.
Using this picture, we've had a look at how it helps explain two of quantum mechanics' most prominent, and at the same time, most mysterious consequences -- the phenomena of interference and entanglement, both of which are often thought to lie at the heart of quantum mechanics.
In this post, I want to have a look at the interpretation of quantum mechanics, and how the previously developed picture helps to make sense of the theory. But first, we need to take a look at what, exactly, an interpretation of quantum mechanics is supposed to accomplish -- and whether we in fact need one (because if we find that we don't, I could save myself a lot of writing).