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In approaches to quantum theory in which the quantum state is regarded as a representation of knowledge, information, or belief, two agents can assign different states to the same quantum system. This raises two questions: when are such state assignments compatible? and how should the state assignments of different agents be reconciled? In this paper, we address these questions from the perspective of the recently developed conditional states formalism for quantum theory [1]. Specifically, we derive a compatibility criterion proposed by Brun, Finkelstein and Mermin from the requirement that, upon acquiring data, agents should update their states using a quantum generalization of Bayesian conditioning. We provide two alternative arguments for this criterion, based on the objective and subjective Bayesian interpretations of probability theory. We then apply the same methodology to the problem of quantum state improvement, i.e. how to update your state when you learn someone else’s state assignment, and to quantum state pooling, i.e. how to combine the state assignments of several agents into a single assignment that accurately represents the views of the group. In particular, we derive a pooling rule previously proposed by Spekkens and Wiseman under much weaker assumptions than those made in the original derivation. All of our results apply to a much broader class of experimental scenarios than have been considered previously in this context.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical, volume 47, in 2014 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1088/1751-8113/47/27/275301.

Selected by the editors for inclusion in the "Highlights of 2014" collection.

Peer Reviewed



IOP Publishing



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