nLab consistent histories approach to quantum mechanics



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This approach to quantum mechanics assigns probabilities to various alternative histories of measurements on a system such that the probabilities for each history obey the rules of classical probability while being consistent with the Schrödinger equation. It is claimed to resolve what is generally taken to be paradoxical about quantum mechanics, such as the supposed collapse of the wave-function.

Measurements in this approach are typically understood in terms of quantum decoherence, hence an alternative name decoherent histories.


The consistent histories approach was introduced by

with a comprehensive account in:

It was also discussed by Roland Omnès in a series of papers beginning with

  • Roland Omnès (1988) “Logical reformulation of quantum mechanics I. Foundations”, Journal of Statistical Physics, 53: 893–932.

See also his books

  • Roland Omnès (1999). Understanding Quantum Mechanics, Princeton University Press.

  • Roland Omnès (1999). Quantum Philosophy, Princeton University Press, 1999.

The closely related decoherent histories approach first appeared in

  • Murray Gell-Mann and James Hartle (1990) “Quantum mechanics in the light of quantum cosmology”, in W. H. Zurek (ed.), Complexity, entropy and the physics of information. Redwood City, Calif.: Addison-Wesley, pp. 425–458.

Last revised on November 20, 2022 at 08:50:05. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.