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    Quantum Pasts and the Utility of History

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    From data in the present we can predict the future and retrodict the past. These predictions and retrodictions are for histories -- most simply time sequences of events. Quantum mechanics gives probabilities for individual histories in a decoherent set of alternative histories. This paper discusses several issues connected with the distinction between prediction and retrodiction in quantum cosmology: the difference between classical and quantum retrodiction, the permanence of the past, why we predict the future but remember the past, the nature and utility of reconstructing the past(s), and information theoretic measures of the utility of history. (Talk presented at the Nobel Symposium: Modern Studies of Basic Quantum Concepts and Phenomena, Gimo, Sweden, June 13-17, 1997)Comment: 22pages, uses REVTEX 3.
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