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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Typical introductions to quantum mechanics present it as being composed of two processes, unitary evolution of the wavefunction and collapse of the wavefunction. The latter being tied to things like an external world and observer. Consciousness is also sometimes invoked as playing an important role. While this is good enough to do many calculations and make interesting predictions, it's clearly not any kind of "fundamental" theory.

Environmental decoherence explains why it looks like there is wavefunction collapse, why superpositions are difficult to observe and why a world governed by quantum mechanics looks classical. Often introductory books speak of "quantizing" a classical system to see the quantum effects, giving the impression that the quantum world arises from the classical world. Another benefit of studying decoherence is that it makes it clear that the (apparently) classical world arises from a universe ruled by the laws of quantum mechanics.

This book provides a thorough and clear presentation of decoherence. It does not assume any previous exposure to decoherence. All the fundamental concepts are explained from the ground up. However, the reader should have a fairly solid background in non-relativistic quantum mechanics. I think at the level of a graduate course.

Not only are the principles of decoherence clearly explained, but so are several experimental results relating to concrete predictions of decoherence. This includes predictions of decoherence time scales and how they compare to experiments. A nice aspect of this is that it shows that the transition from quantum to apparently classical is continuous and not discrete. There is also a chapter on quantum computing, however I only read the first section (which was good) and cannot comment of the rest.

Although decoherence is an important part of foundational issues in quantum mechanics it doesn't completely eliminate discussions of interpretations of quantum mechanics. The second to last chapter deals with these issues. The last chapter discusses ties between decoherence and consciousness (not in the metaphysical sense, more along the lines of things like decoherence time scales for structures in the brain). These final two chapters are the part of the book that is most like a typical interpretation of quantum mechanics book and are very well done.

While there are some very good to excellent books on interpretations of quantum mechanics, this book would be my first choice for studying foundational issues in quantum mechanics. The reasons are that decoherence is clearly an important topic, this book makes connections with experimental results (including effects at mesoscopic scales), it assumes no prior knowledge of the topic and it's very well written.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This highly specialized book determinedly sticks to its proclaimed aim with the emphasis very decidedly on decoherence . The author has contributed significantly to the field and everything he does in the book is carefully referenced to a bibliography listing no fewer than 514 items , bringing it up to the year 2006 .Zurek's work is copiously referred to . You have a theoretical problem with decoherence it's a good bet Schlosshauer has been there .You will find the formal basis for decoherence analysis and calculation extensively worked out leading to master equations which are then applied to solve specific model problems .
Quantum computation is discussed as a prime victim to decoherence .Relevance of decoherence to various interpretations of QM is discussed : hidden-variables theories do not fare well . The status of the measurement problem is critically reviewed : the problem is still there . There also is a chapter on experiments demonstrating decoherence in a controlled way . The descriptions are detailed though not self-contained . For an experimentalist's approach to fundamental quantum physics experiments one should look at an also recent though somewhat earlier book by Haroche & Raimond .
Thoretical physicists working in this field will want this outstanding book on their shelves and the author on their mailing list .
This reader is left with a question : is there or will there be a consistently information-theoretical approach to the quantum-to-classical transition ?
And here's an idea for the publisher : start quoting your book prices in oil barrels .

Alex Trier
Santiago , Chile
Retired university professor
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book revises the fundamental interpretation of quantum mechanics focusing on the weaknesses of the canonical Copenaghen interpretation. The decoherence program is explained through the book not without useful and interesting remarks on the historical development and the state-of-the-art of the program. It's definetly the most understandble and enjoyble book on this subject, although there are probably just a couple of altrernatives. Very useful also to revise several quantum mechanics concepts and formalisms.
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