Higher-order interference and single-system postulates characterizing quantum theory
CITATION: Barnum, H., Muller, M. P. & Ududec, C. 2014. Higher-order interference and single-system postulates characterizing quantum theory. New Journal of Physics, 16:123029, doi:10.1088/1367-2630/16/12/123029.
The original publication is available at http://iopscience.iop.org/journal/1367-2630
We present a new characterization of quantum theory in terms of simple physical principles that is different from previous ones in two important respects: first, it only refers to properties of single systems without any assumptions on the composition of many systems; and second, it is closer to experiment by having absence of higher-order interference as a postulate, which is currently the subject of experimental investigation. We give three postulates—no higher-order interference, classical decomposability of states, and strong symmetry—and prove that the only non-classical operational probabilistic theories satisfying them are real, complex, and quaternionic quantum theory, together with threelevel octonionic quantum theory and ball state spaces of arbitrary dimension. Then we show that adding observability of energy as a fourth postulate yields complex quantum theory as the unique solution, relating the emergence of the complex numbers to the possibility of Hamiltonian dynamics. We also show that there may be interesting non-quantum theories satisfying only the first two of our postulates, which would allow for higher-order interference in experiments while still respecting the contextuality analogue of the local orthogonality principle.