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Big Toy Models: Representing Physical Systems As Chu Spaces

Samson Abramsky


We pursue a model-oriented rather than axiomatic approach to the foundations of Quantum Mechanics, with the idea that new models can often suggest new axioms. This approach has often been fruitful in Logic and Theoretical Computer Science. Rather than seeking to construct a simplified toy model, we aim for a 'big toy model', in which both quantum and classical systems can be faithfully represented&emdash;as well as, possibly, more exotic kinds of systems. To this end, we show how Chu spaces can be used to represent physical systems of various kinds. In particular, we show how quantum systems can be represented as Chu spaces over the unit interval in such a way that the Chu morphisms correspond exactly to the physically meaningful symmetries of the systems&emdash;the unitaries and antiunitaries. In this way we obtain a full and faithful functor from the groupoid of Hilbert spaces and their symmetries to Chu spaces. We also consider whether it is possible to use a finite value set rather than the unit interval; we show that two values do not suffice, but three do. We also show a connection between Chu spaces and coalgebras, and make some comparisons between the two frameworks.