Completely top–down hierarchical structure in quantum mechanicsProceedings of the National Academy Science of the U.S.A. 115(46)
Can a large system be fully characterized using its subsystems via inductive reasoning? Is it possible to completely reduce the behavior of a complex system to the behavior of its simplest “atoms”? In this paper we answer these questions in the negative for a specific class of systems and measurements. After a general introduction of the topic, we present the main idea with a simple two-particle example, where strong correlations arise between two apparently empty boxes. This leads to surprising effects within atomic and electromagnetic systems.
A general construction based on pre- and postselected ensembles is then suggested, wherein the N-body correlation can be genuinely perceived as a global property, as long as one is limited to performing measurements which we term “strictly local.” We conclude that under certain boundary conditions, higher-order correlations within quantum mechanical systems can determine lower-order ones, but not vice versa. Surprisingly, the lower-order correlations provide no information whatsoever regarding the higher-order correlations. This supports a top–down structure in many-body quantum mechanics.
The article was published in: Proceedings of the National Academy Science of the U.S.A. 115(46): 11730-11735.
This work was supported (in part) by the Fetzer Franklin Fund of the John E. Fetzer Memorial Trust.