No-Signalling Is Equivalent To Free Choice of Measurements

Samson Abramsky
(University of Oxford)
Adam Brandenburger
(New York University)
Andrei Savochkin
(New Economic School, Moscow)

No-Signalling is a fundamental constraint on the probabilistic predictions made by physical theories. It is usually justified in terms of the constraints imposed by special relativity. However, this justification is not as clear-cut as is usually supposed. We shall give a different perspective on this condition by showing an equivalence between No-Signalling and Lambda Independence, or "free choice of measurements", a condition on hidden-variable theories which is needed to make no-go theorems such as Bell's theorem non-trivial. More precisely, we shall show that a probability table describing measurement outcomes is No-Signalling if and only if it can be realized by a Lambda-Independent hidden-variable theory of a particular canonical form, in which the hidden variables correspond to non-contextual deterministic predictions of measurement outcomes. The key proviso which avoids contradiction with Bell's theorem is that we consider hidden-variable theories with signed probability measures over the hidden variables - i.e. negative probabilities. Negative probabilities have often been discussed in the literature on quantum mechanics. We use a result proved previously in "The Sheaf-theoretic Structure of Locality and Contextuality" by Abramsky and Brandenburger, which shows that they give rise to, and indeed characterize, the entire class of No-Signalling behaviours. In the present paper, we put this result in a broader context, which reveals the surprising consequence that the No-Signalling condition is equivalent to the apparently completely different notion of free choice of measurements.

In Bob Coecke and Matty Hoban: Proceedings of the 10th International Workshop on Quantum Physics and Logic (QPL 2013), Castelldefels (Barcelona), Spain, 17th to 19th July 2013, Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 171, pp. 1–9.
Published: 27th December 2014.

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