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Representing Measurement as a Thermodynamic Symmetry Breaking

23 Rue des Lavandières, 11160 Caunes Minervois, France
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Adjunct Faculty: Department of Mathematics, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, IL 61820, USA.
Symmetry 2020, 12(5), 810;
Received: 3 March 2020 / Revised: 23 April 2020 / Accepted: 5 May 2020 / Published: 13 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Quantum Systems)
Descriptions of measurement typically neglect the observations required to identify the apparatus employed to either prepare or register the final state of the “system of interest.” Here, we employ category-theoretic methods, particularly the theory of classifiers, to characterize the full interaction between observer and world in terms of information and resource flows. Allocating a subset of the received bits to system identification imposes two separability constraints and hence breaks two symmetries: first, between observational outcomes held constant and those allowed to vary; and, second, between observational outcomes regarded as “informative” and those relegated to purely thermodynamic functions of free-energy acquisition and waste heat dissipation. We show that breaking these symmetries induces decoherence, contextuality, and measurement-associated disturbance of the system of interest. View Full-Text
Keywords: cocone; colimit; contextuality; decoherence; entanglement; observation; system identification; unitarity cocone; colimit; contextuality; decoherence; entanglement; observation; system identification; unitarity
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Fields, C.; Glazebrook, J.F. Representing Measurement as a Thermodynamic Symmetry Breaking. Symmetry 2020, 12, 810.

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