Non-locality in intrinsic topologically ordered systems

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Intrinsic topologically ordered (ITO) condensed matter systems are claimed to exhibit two types of non-locality. The first is associated with topological properties and the second is associated with a particular type of quantum entanglement. These characteristics are supposed to allow ITO systems to encode information in the form of quantum entangled states in a topologically non-local way that protects it against local errors. This essay first clarifies the sense in which these two notions of non-locality are distinct, and then considers the extent to which they are exhibited by ITO systems. I will argue that while the claim that ITO systems exhibit topological non-locality is unproblematic, the claim that they also exhibit quantum entanglement non-locality is less clear, and this is due in part to ambiguities associated with the notion of quantum entanglement. Moreover, any argument that claims some form of “long-range” entanglement is necessary to explain topological properties is incomplete if it fails to provide a convincing reason why mechanistic explanations should be favored over structural explanations of topological phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-33
Number of pages10
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
StatePublished - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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