Symmetry, compact closure and dagger compactness for categories of convex operational models

Barnum, Howard and Duncan, Ross and Wilce, Alexander (2013) Symmetry, compact closure and dagger compactness for categories of convex operational models. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 42 (3). pp. 501-523. ISSN 0022-3611 (

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In the categorical approach to the foundations of quantum theory, one begins with a symmetric monoidal category, the objects of which represent physical systems, and the morphisms of which represent physical processes. Usually, this category is taken to be at least compact closed, and more often, dagger compact, enforcing a certain self-duality, whereby preparation processes (roughly, states) are interconvertible with processes of registration (roughly, measurement outcomes). This is in contrast to the more concrete “operational” approach, in which the states and measurement outcomes associated with a physical system are represented in terms of what we here call a convex operational model: a certain dual pair of ordered linear spaces–generally, not isomorphic to one another. On the other hand, state spaces for which there is such an isomorphism, which we term weakly self-dual, play an important role in reconstructions of various quantum-information theoretic protocols, including teleportation and ensemble steering. In this paper, we characterize compact closure of symmetric monoidal categories of convex operational models in two ways: as a statement about the existence of teleportation protocols, and as the principle that every process allowed by that theory can be realized as an instance of a remote evaluation protocol—hence, as a form of classical probabilistic conditioning. In a large class of cases, which includes both the classical and quantum cases, the relevant compact closed categories are degenerate, in the weak sense that every object is its own dual. We characterize the dagger-compactness of such a category (with respect to the natural adjoint) in terms of the existence, for each system, of a symmetric bipartite state, the associated conditioning map of which is an isomorphism.


Barnum, Howard, Duncan, Ross ORCID logoORCID: and Wilce, Alexander;