TitleQuantum Notations as Computational Tools
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsGire E, Price E
KeywordsDistributed Cognition, Quantum Mechanics, Representations, Structural Features

The formalism of quantum mechanics includes a rich collection of representations for describing quantum systems, including functions, graphs, matrices, histograms of probabilities, and Dirac notation. The varied features of these representations affect how computations are performed. For example, identifying probabilities of measurement outcomes for a state described in Dirac notation may involve identifying expansion coefficients by inspection, but if the state is described as a function, identifying those expansion coefficients often involves performing integrals. We have identified four structural features of quantum notations: individuation, degree of externalization, compactness, and symbolic support for computational rules. We will discuss how these structural features may or may not support student reasoning.