Probing finite coarse-grained virtual Feynman histories with sequential weak values

Danko Georgiev, Eliahu Cohen

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Feynman's sum-over-histories formulation of quantum mechanics has been considered a useful calculational tool in which virtual Feynman histories entering into a coherent quantum superposition cannot be individually measured. Here we show that sequential weak values, inferred by consecutive weak measurements of projectors, allow direct experimental probing of individual virtual Feynman histories, thereby revealing the exact nature of quantum interference of coherently superposed histories. Because the total sum of sequential weak values of multitime projection operators for a complete set of orthogonal quantum histories is unity, complete sets of weak values could be interpreted in agreement with the standard quantum mechanical picture. We also elucidate the relationship between sequential weak values of quantum histories with different coarse graining in time and establish the incompatibility of weak values for nonorthogonal quantum histories in history Hilbert space. Bridging theory and experiment, the presented results may enhance our understanding of both weak values and quantum histories.

Original languageEnglish
Article number052102
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 May 2018
Externally publishedYes

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© 2018 American Physical Society.


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