The density operators obtained by taking partial traces represent improper mixtures of subsystems of a compound physical system because the coefficients in the convex sums expressing them never bear the ignorance interpretation. Assigning states to these subsystems is consequently problematic in standard quantum mechanics (subentity problem). In the semantic realism interpretation of quantum mechanics, it is instead proposed to consider improper mixtures true nonpure states conceptually distinct from proper mixtures. Based on this proposal, we show that proper and improper mixtures can be represented by different density operators in the quaternionic formulation of quantum mechanics and can hence be distinguished even from a mathematical standpoint. We provide a simple example related to the quantum theory of measurement.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Theoretical and Mathematical Physics (TMP)|
|Publication status||Published - 2009|
- Quaternionic quantum mechanics
- Proper and improper mixtures
- Subentity problem
- Semantic realism