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Advances in Mathematical Physics
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 156573, 20 pages
Research Article

Conditional Probability, Three-Slit Experiments, and the Jordan Algebra Structure of Quantum Mechanics

Zillertalstrasse 39, 81373 Muenchen, Germany

Received 4 March 2012; Accepted 2 June 2012

Academic Editor: B. G. Konopelchenko

Copyright © 2012 Gerd Niestegge. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Most quantum logics do not allow for a reasonable calculus of conditional probability. However, those ones which do so provide a very general and rich mathematical structure, including classical probabilities, quantum mechanics, and Jordan algebras. This structure exhibits some similarities with Alfsen and Shultz's noncommutative spectral theory, but these two mathematical approaches are not identical. Barnum, Emerson, and Ududec adapted the concept of higher-order interference, introduced by Sorkin in 1994, into a general probabilistic framework. Their adaption is used here to reveal a close link between the existence of the Jordan product and the nonexistence of interference of third or higher order in those quantum logics which entail a reasonable calculus of conditional probability. The complete characterization of the Jordan algebraic structure requires the following three further postulates: a Hahn-Jordan decomposition property for the states, a polynomial functional calculus for the observables, and the positivity of the square of an observable. While classical probabilities are characterized by the absence of any kind of interference, the absence of interference of third (and higher) order thus characterizes a probability calculus which comes close to quantum mechanics but still includes the exceptional Jordan algebras.