Mathematical Physics and Quantum Field Theory
Electron. J. Diff. Eqns., Conf. 04, 2000, pp. 215-229.

Consistent histories: Description of a world with increasing entropy

C. H. Woo

A distinction is made between two kinds of consistent histories: (1) robust histories consistent by virtue of decoherence, and (2) verifiable histories consistent through the existence of accessible records. It is events in verifiable histories which describe amplified quantum fluctuations. If the consistent-histories formalism is to improve on the Copenhagen interpretation by providing a self-contained quantum representation of the quasi-classical world, the appropriate quantum state must track closely all macroscopic phenomena, and the von Neumann entropy of that quantum state ought to change in the same direction as the statistical entropy of the macro-world. Since the von Neumann entropy tends to decrease under successive branchings, the evolution of an entropy-increasing quasi-classical world is not described by a process of branchings only: mergings of previously separate histories must also occur. As a consequence, the number of possible quasi-classical worlds does not have to grow indefinitely as in the many-world picture.

Published July 12, 2000.
Mathematics Subject Classifications: 81P05, 81P10, 81P15.
Key words: Consistent histories, entropy, second law.

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C. H. Woo
Physics Department
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

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