Invariant class operators in the decoherent histories analysis of timeless quantum theories

J. J. Halliwell, P. Wallden

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Abstract

The decoherent histories approach to quantum theory is applied to a class of reparametrization-invariant models whose state is an energy eigenstate. A key step in this approach is the construction of class operators characterizing the questions of physical interest, such as the probability of the system entering a given region of configuration space without regard to time. In nonrelativistic quantum mechanics these class operators are given by time-ordered products of projection operators. But in reparametrization-invariant models, where there is no time, the construction of the class operators is more complicated, the main difficulty being to find operators which commute with the Hamiltonian constraint (and so respect the invariance of the theory). Here, inspired by classical considerations, we put forward a proposal for the construction of such class operators for a class of reparametrization-invariant systems. They consist of continuous infinite temporal products of Heisenberg picture projection operators. We investigate the consequences of this proposal in a number of simple models and also compare with the evolving constants method. The formalism developed here is ultimately aimed at cosmological models described by a Wheeler-DeWitt equation, but the specific features of such models are left to future papers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear and Soft Matter Physics
Volume73
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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