Entanglement and open systems in algebraic quantum field theory

Rob Clifton, Hans Halvorson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Entanglement has long been the subject of discussion by philosophers of quantum theory, and has recently come to play an essential role for physicists in their development of quantum information theory. In this paper we show how the formalism of algebraic quantum field theory (AQFT) provides a rigorous framework within which to analyse entanglement in the context of a fully relativistic formulation of quantum theory. What emerges from the analysis are new practical and theoretical limitations on an experimenter's ability to perform operations on a field in one spacetime region that can disentangle its state from the state of the field in other spacelike-separated regions. These limitations show just how deeply entrenched entanglement is in relativistic quantum field theory, and yield a fresh perspective on the ways in which the theory differs conceptually from both standard non-relativistic quantum theory and classical relativistic field theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2001
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Entanglement
  • Local Operation
  • Quantum Field
  • Von Neumann Algebra.


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