[FOM] The Strong Free Will Theorem
Timothy Y. Chow
tchow at alum.mit.edu
Sun Jan 25 14:56:46 EST 2009
The latest issue of the Notices of the AMS has an article by Kochen and
Conway about their free will theorem.
Despite being written by two mathematicians and having the word "theorem"
in the title, the paper is written in a "physics style," meaning that not
all the assumptions are made explicit. For example, "relativistic
invariance" is not explicitly asserted as an axiom (although it is
implicit since the term "spacelike separation" is used in one of their
One specific assertion they make which interests me is that "no
relativistic version of a hidden variable theory such as Bohm's well-known
theory can exist." But I can't tell whether they're saying anything new
here. Is "relativistic" different from "local"?
More generally, what exactly is new about the Strong Free Will Theorem?
Superficially, its conclusions are not surprising to physicists, so it
must be that the hypotheses are weaker than previously suspected. But
the hypotheses aren't stated with the degree of precision that
mathematicians are accustomed to, so it's hard (for me anyway) to assess
the mathematical content of their theorem. The Kochen-Specker paradox is
easily comprehended mathematically, but the free will theorem is supposed
to go beyond that.
I'm hoping that someone here---perhaps Nemeti or others interested in the
formalization of special relativity---can help clarify.
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