Dorit Aharonov
(Hebrew University, Jerusalem)
Is Quantum Mechanics Falsifiable?
A computational point of view on the foundations of quantum mechanics

The study of quantum computation teaches us that quantum mechanics (QM) exhibits exponential computational complexity; it is the only computational model that credibly challenges the extended Church-Turing thesis. As I will argue in my talk, a simple but thought-provoking corollary is that the standard scientific paradigm of "predict and verify" cannot be applied to testing the physical theory of QM in the limit of exponential computational complexity; this raises the question of whether those important aspects of QM are falsifiable. In the talk I will explain the ingredients required to understand the above question, including the model of quantum computation, and the extended Church Turing thesis; I will then describe how QM can after all be tested in the high complexity regime by extending the usual scientific paradigm to include /interactive experiments/. The extension of the scientific paradigm to include the power of interaction is inspired by the idea of "interactive proofs" which is central in modern theoretical computer science; the intuition being that (well structured) interaction greatly enhances the ability to verify the correctness of claims, even if they are very difficult to prove on one's own. The ideas I will explore in the talk intertwine seemingly very different areas of science, including the foundations of QM, cryptography, and philosophy of science; they meet Turing's legacy at several points, from the generalization of Turing machines to quantum computers, to the violation of the extended Church-Turing thesis, to the Turing test and the interaction it involves. I will end my talk with three fundamental open questions that are raised by this fascinating interdisciplinary research direction.

Based on collaborations with Ben-Or, Eban, Vazirani, and Yaari.