Robert Spekkens received his B.Sc. in physics and philosophy from McGill University and completed his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Toronto.  He held a postdoctoral fellowship at Perimeter Institute and an International Royal Society Fellowship at the University of Cambridge.  He has been a faculty member at Perimeter Institute since November 2008.  His research is focused upon identifying the conceptual innovations that distinguish quantum theories from classical theories and investigating their significance for axiomatization, interpretation, and the implementation of various information-theoretic tasks.

Talks by Robert Spekkens

Quantizing causation

Robert Spekkens Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
"Spatio-temporal relations are often taken to be more primitive than causal relations. Such a relationship is assumed whenever it is suggested that it is part of the definition of a causal relation that the cause must precede the effect in time. There are good reasons, however, to take causation to be the more primitive notion, with spatio-temporal relations merely describing aspects of causal relations.

Robert Spekkens and Elie Wolfe, Perimeter Institute

What do data science and the foundations of quantum theory have to do with one another?

A great deal, it turns out. The particular branch of data science known as causal inference focuses on a problem which is central to disciplines ranging from epidemiology to economics: that of disentangling correlation and causation in statistical data.

A resource theory of nonclassicality in Bell scenarios

Robert Spekkens Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
We take a resource-theoretic approach to the problem of quantifying nonclassicality in Bell scenarios. The resources are conceptualized as probabilistic processes from the setting variables to the outcome variables which have a particular causal structure, namely, one wherein the wings are only connected by a common cause. The distinction between classical and nonclassical is then defined in terms of whether or not a classical causal model can explain the correlations.

Can Quantum Correlations be Explained Causally?

Robert Spekkens Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

Abstract: There is a strong correlation between the sun rising and the rooster crowing, but to say that the one causes the other is to say more. In particular, it says that making the rooster crow early will not precipitate an early dawn, whereas making the sun rise early (for instance, by moving the rooster eastward) can lead to some early crowing. Intervening upon the natural course of events in this manner is a good way of discovering causal relations. Sometimes, however, we can't intervene, or we'd prefer not to.

Why initial system-environment correlations do not imply the failure of complete positivity: a causal perspective

Robert Spekkens Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

When a system interacts with an environment with which it is initially uncorrelated, its evolution is described by a completely positive map.  The common wisdom in the field of quantum information theory, however, is that when the system is initially correlated with the environment, the map describing its evolution may fail to be completely positive.