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A Semantics for Counterfactuals in Quantum Causal Models

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  • UserEric Cavalcanti, Griffith University
  • ClockFriday 05 May 2023, 12:00-13:00
  • HouseZoom.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Damian Pitalua-Garcia.

We introduce a formalism for the evaluation of counterfactual queries in the framework of quantum causal models, by generalising the three-step procedure of abduction, action, and prediction in Pearl’s classical formalism of counterfactuals. To this end, we define a suitable extension of Pearl’s notion of a “classical structural causal model”, which we denote analogously by “quantum structural causal model”. We show that every classical (probabilistic) structural causal model can be extended to a quantum structural causal model, and prove that counterfactual queries that can be formulated within a classical structural causal model agree with their corresponding queries in the quantum extension – but the latter is more expressive. Counterfactuals in quantum causal models come in different forms: we distinguish between active and passive counterfactual queries, depending on whether or not an intervention is to be performed in the action step. This is in contrast to the classical case, where counterfactuals are always interpreted in the active sense. As a consequence of this distinction, we observe that quantum causal models break the connection between causal and counterfactual dependence that exists in the classical case: (passive) quantum counterfactuals allow counterfactual dependence without causal dependence. This illuminates an important distinction between classical and quantum causal models, which underlies the fact that the latter can reproduce quantum correlations that violate Bell inequalities while being faithful to the relativistic causal structure. (This talk is based on arXiv:2302.11783.)

This talk is part of the CQIF Seminar series.

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