Thermodynamical cost of some interpretations of quantum theory

Adán Cabello, Mile Gu, Otfried Gühne, Jan Åke Larsson, Karoline Wiesner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
370 Downloads (Pure)


The interpretation of quantum theory is one of the longest-standing debates in physics. Type I interpretations see quantum probabilities as determined by intrinsic properties of the observed system. Type II see them as relational experiences between an observer and the system. It is usually believed that a decision between these two options cannot be made simply on purely physical grounds but requires an act of metaphysical judgment. Here we show that, under some assumptions, the problem is decidable using thermodynamics. We prove that type I interpretations are incompatible with the following assumptions: (i) The choice of which measurement is performed can be made randomly and independently of the system under observation, (ii) the system has limited memory, and (iii) Landauer's erasure principle holds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number052127
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2016


  • Quantum physics
  • Complexity

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