On the Debate Concerning the Proper Characterization of Quantum Dynamical Evolution

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Philosophy of Science, ISSN: 0031-8248, Vol: 80, Issue: 5, Page: 1125-1136

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Cuffaro, Michael E.; Myrvold, Wayne C.
University of Chicago Press
Arts and Humanities
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There has been a long-standing and sometimes passionate debate between physicists over whether a dynamical framework for quantum systems should incorporate not completely positive (NCP) maps in addition to completely positive (CP) maps. Despite the reasonableness of the arguments for complete positivity, we argue that NCP maps should be allowed, with a qualification: these should be understood, not as reflecting 'not completely positive' evolution, but as linear extensions, to a system's entire state space, of CP maps that are only partially defined. Beyond the domain of definition of a partial-CP map, we argue, much may be permitted. © 2013 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved.