Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Identical Quantum Particles, Entanglement and Individuality

Version 1 : Received: 2 December 2019 / Approved: 3 December 2019 / Online: 3 December 2019 (05:59:55 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Dieks, D. Identical Quantum Particles, Entanglement, and Individuality. Entropy 2020, 22, 134. Dieks, D. Identical Quantum Particles, Entanglement, and Individuality. Entropy 2020, 22, 134.


Particles in classical physics are distinguishable objects, which can be picked out individually on the basis of their unique physical properties. By contrast, in quantum mechanics the standard view is that particles of the same kind (``identical particles'') are completely indistinguishable from each other. This standard view is problematic: Particle indistinguishability is irreconcilable not only with the very meaning of ``particle'' in ordinary language and in classical physical theory, but also with how this term is used in the practice of present-day physics. Moreover, the indistinguishability doctrine prevents a smooth transition from quantum particles to what we normally understand by ``particles'' in the classical limit of quantum mechanics. Elaborating on earlier work, we here discuss an alternative to the standard view that avoids these and similar problems. As it turns out, this alternative approach connects to recent discussions in quantum information theory concerning the question of when identical particles can be considered to be entangled.


identical quantum particles; indistinguishability; the concept of a particle; emergence; entanglement


Physical Sciences, Quantum Science and Technology

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