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Reality's quantum nature is its most inexplicable feature. The outcome of every observation we make can ultimately be written on classical pieces of paper. Why would understanding this classical data merit non-classical logic? This puzzle has pushed a heated search for fundamental physical principles to justify why reality is quantum mechanical.

Our project aims to shed new light by invoking Occam’s razor, a philosophical principle that has guided scientific development since its inception. In the words of Isaac Newton, 'We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.' Could this desire for simplicity thus isolate quantum theory as the ideal way to understand reality?

Two faculty and two postdoctoral fellows will tackle this question via a novel interdisciplinary mix of computational mechanics and quantum theory. The former formalizes what it means for explanations to be simple; the latter takes these concepts beyond classical logic. Our deliverables – one international workshop, ten academic publications and supporting conference presentations – will determine the extent our desire for the simplest understanding justifies quantum theory – and in doing so – pioneer a new interdisciplinary research community that straddles quantum and computational mechanics.

Their impact will persist long after the end project date. In connecting ‘How to explain most simply?’ to ‘Why Quantum?’, we launch a new paradigm – our understanding of reality ultimately depends on what information theory we use. This symbiosis of quantum and computational mechanics offers new possibilities in understanding the deep questions in either field – whether temporal asymmetry in quantum theory may arise from its need to postulate extraneous causes, and how more powerful forms of information reshape our notions of structure and complexity.