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Local hidden-variable theory

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In the interpretation of quantum mechanics, a local hidden-variable theory is a hidden-variable theory that satisfies the principle of locality. These models attempt to account for the probabilistic features of quantum mechanics via the mechanism of underlying, but inaccessible variables, with the additional requirement that distant events be statistically independent.

The mathematical implications of a local hidden-variable theory with regards to quantum entanglement were explored by physicist John Stewart Bell, who in 1964 proved that broad classes of local hidden-variable theories cannot reproduce the correlations between measurement outcomes that quantum mechanics predicts, a result since confirmed by a range of detailed Bell test experiments.[1]


Single qubit[edit]

A collection of related theorems, beginning with Bell's proof in 1964, show that quantum mechanics is incompatible with local hidden variables. However, as Bell pointed out, restricted sets of quantum phenomena can be imitated using local hidden-variable models. Bell provided a local hidden-variable model for quantum measurements upon a spin-1/2 particle, or in the terminology of quantum information theory, a single qubit.[2] Bell's model was later simplified by N. David Mermin, and a closely related model was presented by Simon B. Kochen and Ernst Specker.[3][4][5] The existence of these models is related to the fact that Gleason's theorem does not apply to the case of a single qubit.[6]

Bipartite quantum states[edit]

Bell also pointed out that up until then, discussions of quantum entanglement focused on cases where the results of measurements upon two particles were either perfectly correlated or perfectly anti-correlated. These special cases can also be explained using local hidden variables.[2][7][8]

For separable states of two particles, there is a simple hidden-variable model for any measurements on the two parties. Surprisingly, there are also entangled states for which all von Neumann measurements can be described by a hidden-variable model.[9] Such states are entangled, but do not violate any Bell inequality. The so-called Werner states are a single-parameter family of states that are invariant under any transformation of the type where is a unitary matrix. For two qubits, they are noisy singlets given as

where the singlet is defined as .

Reinhard F. Werner showed that such states allow for a hidden-variable model for , while they are entangled if . The bound for hidden-variable models could be improved until .[10] Hidden-variable models have been constructed for Werner states even if positive operator-valued measurements (POVM) are allowed, not only von Neumann measurements.[11] Hidden variable models were also constructed to noisy maximally entangled states, and even extended to arbitrary pure states mixed with white noise.[12] Beside bipartite systems, there are also results for the multipartite case. A hidden-variable model for any von Neumann measurements at the parties has been presented for a three-qubit quantum state.[13]

Time-dependent variables[edit]

Previously some new hypotheses were conjectured concerning the role of time in constructing hidden-variables theory. One approach was suggested by K. Hess and W. Philipp and relies upon possible consequences of time dependencies of hidden variables; this hypothesis has been criticized by Richard D. Gill, Gregor Weihs [de], Anton Zeilinger and Marek Żukowski, as well as D. M. Appleby.[14][15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Markoff, Jack (21 October 2015). "Sorry, Einstein. Quantum Study Suggests 'Spooky Action' Is Real". New York Times.
  2. ^ a b Bell, J. S. (1964). "On the Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox" (PDF). Physics Physique Физика. 1 (3): 195–200. doi:10.1103/PhysicsPhysiqueFizika.1.195.
  3. ^ Kochen, S.; Specker, E. (1967). "The Problem of Hidden Variables in Quantum Mechanics". Journal of Mathematics and Mechanics. 17 (1): 59–87. JSTOR 24902153.
  4. ^ Mermin, N. David (1993-07-01). "Hidden variables and the two theorems of John Bell". Reviews of Modern Physics. 65 (3): 803–815. arXiv:1802.10119. Bibcode:1993RvMP...65..803M. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.65.803. S2CID 119546199.
  5. ^ Harrigan, Nicholas; Spekkens, Robert W. (2010-02-01). "Einstein, Incompleteness, and the Epistemic View of Quantum States". Foundations of Physics. 40 (2): 125–157. arXiv:0706.2661. doi:10.1007/s10701-009-9347-0. ISSN 1572-9516. S2CID 32755624.
  6. ^ Budroni, Costantino; Cabello, Adán; Gühne, Otfried; Kleinmann, Matthias; Larsson, Jan-Åke (2022-12-19). "Kochen-Specker contextuality". Reviews of Modern Physics. 94 (4): 045007. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.94.045007. hdl:11441/144776. ISSN 0034-6861. S2CID 251951089.
  7. ^ Ou, Z. Y.; Pereira, S. F.; Kimble, H. J.; Peng, K. C. (1992-06-22). "Realization of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox for continuous variables". Physical Review Letters. 68 (25): 3663–3666. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.68.3663. ISSN 0031-9007. PMID 10045765.
  8. ^ Bartlett, Stephen D.; Rudolph, Terry; Spekkens, Robert W. (2012-07-10). "Reconstruction of Gaussian quantum mechanics from Liouville mechanics with an epistemic restriction". Physical Review A. 86 (1): 012103. arXiv:1111.5057. Bibcode:2012PhRvA..86a2103B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.86.012103. ISSN 1050-2947. S2CID 119235025.
  9. ^ R. F. Werner (1989). "Quantum states with Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen correlations admitting a hidden-variable model". Physical Review A. 40 (8): 4277–4281. Bibcode:1989PhRvA..40.4277W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.40.4277. PMID 9902666.
  10. ^ A. Acín; N. Gisin; B. Toner (2006). "Grothendieck's constant and local models for noisy entangled quantum states". Physical Review A. 73 (6): 062105. arXiv:quant-ph/0606138. Bibcode:2006PhRvA..73f2105A. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.73.062105. S2CID 2588399.
  11. ^ J. Barrett (2002). "Nonsequential positive-operator-valued measurements on entangled mixed states do not always violate a Bell inequality". Physical Review A. 65 (4): 042302. arXiv:quant-ph/0107045. Bibcode:2002PhRvA..65d2302B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.65.042302. S2CID 119390251.
  12. ^ Almeida, Mafalda L.; Pironio, Stefano; Barrett, Jonathan; Tóth, Géza; Acín, Antonio (23 July 2007). "Noise Robustness of the Nonlocality of Entangled Quantum States". Physical Review Letters. 99 (4): 040403. arXiv:quant-ph/0703018. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.99.040403. PMID 17678341. S2CID 7102567.
  13. ^ G. Tóth; A. Acín (2006). "Genuine tripartite entangled states with a local hidden-variable model". Physical Review A. 74 (3): 030306. arXiv:quant-ph/0512088. Bibcode:2006PhRvA..74c0306T. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.74.030306. S2CID 4792051.
  14. ^ Hess, K; Philipp, W (March 2002). "Exclusion of time in the theorem of Bell". Europhysics Letters (EPL). 57 (6): 775–781. doi:10.1209/epl/i2002-00578-y. ISSN 0295-5075. S2CID 250792546.
  15. ^ Gill, R. D.; Weihs, G.; Zeilinger, A.; Zukowski, M. (2002-11-12). "No time loophole in Bell's theorem: The Hess-Philipp model is nonlocal". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 99 (23): 14632–14635. arXiv:quant-ph/0208187. doi:10.1073/pnas.182536499. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 137470. PMID 12411576.
  16. ^ Appleby, D. M. (2003). "The Hess-Philipp Model is Non-Local". International Journal of Quantum Information. 1 (1): 29–36. arXiv:quant-ph/0210145. Bibcode:2002quant.ph.10145A. doi:10.1142/S021974990300005X.