Analysis of the Quantum Mechanical Measurement Process

  • E. P. Wigner
  • M. M. Yanase
Part of the The Scientific Papers book series (WIGNER, volume A / 3)


The quantum mechanical measurement process is analysed in detail, especially from the group theoretical point of view. The first three chapters review the results obtained before briefly. In §1, the classical theory of measurement, originated by von Neumann, is birefly described. The importance of considering more general schemes of measurements than the original one is, however, emphasized In §2, the role of conservation laws, in imposing limitations on the possibility of measurements, is discussed. Accurately measurable quantities are defined in this context. In §3, the role of conservation laws is further analysed. It is shown that the conserved quantity of the apparatus cannot be used for a “pointer reading.” The following two chapters discuss the nature of the exactly measurable quantities. In §4, exactly measurable quantities are explicitly determined. It is shown that the measurement of projection operators in the Hilbert space of the object which commute with the operators of the restricted Poincaré group give all the information on the states of the object that can be obtained by accurate measurements. In §5, the measurement on objects which are composed of more than one particle is discussed.

The last chapter, §6, deals with approximately measurable quantities, but no complete estimate of the unavoidable inaccuracy of the measurement of these is obtained. It also contains some concluding remarks.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

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  • E. P. Wigner
  • M. M. Yanase

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