Computational Complexity and the Nature of Quantum Mechanics

Alessio Benavoli, Alessandro Facchini, Marco Zaffalon

Quantum theory (QT) has been confirmed by numerous experiments, yet we still cannot fully grasp the meaning of the theory. As a consequence, the quantum world appears to us paradoxical. Here we shed new light on QT by being based on two main postulates: 1. the theory should be logically consistent; 2. inferences in the theory should be computable in polynomial time. The first postulate is what we require to each well-founded mathematical theory. The computation postulate defines the physical component of the theory. We show that the computation postulate is the only true divide between QT, seen as a generalised theory of probability, and classical probability. All quantum paradoxes, and entanglement in particular, arise from the clash of trying to reconcile a computationally intractable, somewhat idealised, theory (classical physics) with a computationally tractable theory (QT) or, in other words, from regarding physics as fundamental rather than computation.

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