Kissinger, Aleks and Uijlen, Sander - A categorical semantics for causal structure

lmcs:4426 - Logical Methods in Computer Science, August 9, 2019, Volume 15, Issue 3 -
A categorical semantics for causal structure

Authors: Kissinger, Aleks and Uijlen, Sander

We present a categorical construction for modelling causal structures within a general class of process theories that include the theory of classical probabilistic processes as well as quantum theory. Unlike prior constructions within categorical quantum mechanics, the objects of this theory encode fine-grained causal relationships between subsystems and give a new method for expressing and deriving consequences for a broad class of causal structures. We show that this framework enables one to define families of processes which are consistent with arbitrary acyclic causal orderings. In particular, one can define one-way signalling (a.k.a. semi-causal) processes, non-signalling processes, and quantum $n$-combs. Furthermore, our framework is general enough to accommodate recently-proposed generalisations of classical and quantum theory where processes only need to have a fixed causal ordering locally, but globally allow indefinite causal ordering. To illustrate this point, we show that certain processes of this kind, such as the quantum switch, the process matrices of Oreshkov, Costa, and Brukner, and a classical three-party example due to Baumeler, Feix, and Wolf are all instances of a certain family of processes we refer to as $\textrm{SOC}_n$ in the appropriate category of higher-order causal processes. After defining these families of causal structures within our framework, we give derivations of their operational behaviour using simple, diagrammatic axioms.

Volume: Volume 15, Issue 3
Published on: August 9, 2019
Submitted on: April 6, 2018
Keywords: Quantum Physics,Computer Science - Logic in Computer Science,Mathematical Physics,Mathematics - Category Theory


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