What is Nonclassical about Uncertainty Relations?




University of Gdańsk

April 19, 2023 2:30 PM

Abstract: Uncertainty relations express limits on the extent to which the outcomes of distinct measurements on a single state can be made jointly predictable. The existence of nontrivial uncertainty relations in quantum theory is generally considered to be a way in which it entails a departure from the classical worldview. However, this perspective is undermined by the fact that there exist operational theories which exhibit nontrivial uncertainty relations but which are consistent with the classical worldview insofar as they admit of a generalized-noncontextual ontological model. This prompts the question of what aspects of uncertainty relations, if any, cannot be realized in this way and so constitute evidence of genuine nonclassicality. We here consider uncertainty relations describing the tradeoff between the predictability of a pair of binary-outcome measurements (e.g., measurements of Pauli X and Pauli Z observables in quantum theory). We show that, for a class of theories satisfying a particular symmetry property, the functional form of this predictability tradeoff is constrained by noncontextuality to be below a linear curve. Because qubit quantum theory has the relevant symmetry property, the fact that its predictability tradeoff describes a section of a circle is a violation of this noncontextual bound, and therefore constitutes an example of how the functional form of an uncertainty relation can witness contextuality. We also deduce the implications for a selected group of operational foils to quantum theory and consider the generalization to three measurements.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.129.240401

Lorenzo Catani, Matthew Leifer, Giovanni Scala, David Schmid, and Robert W. Spekkens
Phys. Rev. Lett. 129, 240401 – Published 9 December 2022

Father paper: Why interference phenomena do not capture the essence of quantum theory https://arxiv.org/abs/2111.13727

Child paper: What aspects of the phenomenology of interference witness nonclassicality? https://arxiv.org/abs/2211.09850