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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reductions in finite-dimensional quantum mechanics : from symmetries to operator algebras and beyond Kabernik, Oleg


The idea that symmetries simplify or reduce the complexity of a system has been remarkably fruitful in physics, and especially in quantum mechanics. On a mathematical level, symmetry groups single out a certain structure in the Hilbert space that leads to a reduction. This structure is given by the irreducible representations of the group, and in general it can be identified with an operator algebra (a.k.a. C*-algebra or von Neumann algebra). The primary focus of this thesis is the extension of the framework of reductions from symmetries to operator algebras, and its applications in finite-dimensional quantum mechanics. Finding the irreducible representations structure is the principal problem when working with operator algebras. We will therefore review the representation theory of finite-dimensional operator algebras and elucidate this problem with the help of two novel concepts: minimal isometries and bipartition tables. One of the main technical results that we present is the Scattering Algorithm for analytical derivations of the irreducible representations structure of operator algebras. For applications, we will introduce a symmetry-agnostic approach to the reduction of dynamics where we circumvent the non-trivial task of identifying symmetries, and directly reduce the dynamics generated by a Hamiltonian. We will also consider quantum state reductions that arise from operational constraints, such as the partial trace or the twirl map, and study how operational constraints lead to decoherence. Apart from our primary focus we will extend the idea of reduction beyond operator algebras to operator systems, and formulate a quantum notion of coarse-graining that so far only existed in classical probability theory. In addition, we will characterize how the uncertainty principle transitions to the classical regime under coarse-grained measurements and discuss the implications in a finite-dimensional setting.

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