Master's defence | Oleg Kabernik, Quantum Reference Frames and The Poincaré Symmetry

Friday, September 12, 2014 3:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

MC 6496


Oleg Kabernik, Applied Math, University of Waterloo


Quantum Reference Frames and The Poincaré Symmetry


The concept of a reference frame has been a part of the physical formalism since the early days of physics. The reference frame was always understood as a physical system with respect to which states of other physical systems are described. With the adoption of quantum theory, our understanding of physical systems has fundamentally changed, yet we still rely on classical systems for the definition of reference frames. If we acknowledge the fact that all systems are quantum mechanical, including reference frames, then we have to be able to describe quantum systems relative to other quantum systems.

In this thesis we develop a framework for integrating quantum reference frames into the formalism of quantum mechanics. We show how the description of states and measurements has to be refined in order to account for the quantum nature of the reference frame. Initially, we study the implications of the new description with a quantum reference frame associated with a generic compact group. Then, we apply the same approach to the study of relativistic quantum reference frames associated with the Poincaré group, which is not compact.

Our findings for the generic compact group include an analysis of how well a quantum system defines a frame of reference for other systems. Also in the generic case we analyze the effects of a measurement on a quantum reference frame. In the relativistic case we first find how the massive representations of the Poincaré group decompose into irreducible representations. This is a key problem in the analysis of quantum reference frames. Finally, we analyze a relativistic quantum reference frame that is used for measuring the total momentum. We will show how the relativistic measurements of total momentum should be described with respect to a quantum reference frame. We will also show how these measurements affect the quantum reference frame.