Does ignorance of the whole imply ignorance of the parts? Speaker(s): Stephanie Wehner
Abstract: A central question in our understanding of the physical world is how our knowledge of the whole relates to our knowledge of the individual parts. One aspect of this question is the following: to what extent does ignorance about a whole preclude knowledge of at least one of its parts? Relying purely on classical intuition, one would certainly be inclined to conjecture that a strong ignorance of the whole cannot come without significant ignorance of at least one of its parts. Indeed, we show that this reasoning holds in any noncontextual hidden variable model (NCHV). Curiously, however, such a conjecture is false in quantum theory: we provide an explicit example where a large ignorance about the whole can coexist with an almost perfect knowledge of each of its parts. More specifically, we provide a simple informationtheoretic inequality satisfied in any NCHV, but which can be arbitrarily violated by quantum mechanics. Our inequality has interesting implications for quantum cryptography.
Date: 12/05/2011  5:00 pm
