Characterizing quantum theory in terms of information-theoretic constraints

Rob Clifton, Jeffrey Bub, Hans Halvorson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

209 Scopus citations


We show that three fundamental information-theoretic constraints-the impossibility of superluminal information transfer between two physical systems by performing measurements on one of them, the impossibility of broadcasting the information contained in an unknown physical state, and the impossibility of unconditionally secure bit commitment-suffice to entail that the observables and state space of a physical theory are quantum-mechanical. We demonstrate the converse derivation in part, and consider the implications of alternative answers to a remaining open question about nonlocality and bit commitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1561-1591
Number of pages31
JournalFoundations of Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


  • Information-theoretic constraints
  • Quantum theory


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