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Quantum theory is considered to be the most fundamental and most accurate physical theory of today. Although quantum theory is conceptually difficult to understand, its mathematical structure is quite simple. What determines this particularly simple and elegant mathematical structure? In short: Why is quantum theory as it is?
Addressing such questions is the aim of investigating the foundations of quantum theory. In the past this field of research was sometimes considered as an academic subject without much practical impact. However, with the emergence of quantum information theory this perception has changed significantly and both fields started to fruitfully influence each other. Today fundamental aspects of quantum theory attract increasing attention and the field belongs to the most exciting subjects of theoretical physics.
This thesis is concerned with a particular branch in this field, namely, with so-called Generalized Probabilistic Theories (GPTs), which provide a unified theoretical framework in which classical and quantum theory emerge as special cases. This is used to examine nonlocal features that help to distinguish quantum theory from alternative toy theories. In order to extend the scope of theories that can be examined with the framework, we also introduce several generalizations to the framework itself.
We start in Chapter 1 with introducing the standard GPT framework and summarize previous results, based on a review paper of the author [New J. Phys. 13, 063024 (2011)]. To keep the introduction accessible to a broad readership, we follow a constructive approach. Starting from few basic physically motivated assumptions we show how a given set of observations can be manifested in an operational theory. Furthermore, we characterize consistency conditions limiting the range of possible extensions. We point out that non-classical features of single systems can equivalently result from higher dimensional classical theories that have been restricted. Entanglement and non-locality, however, are shown to be genuine non-classical features. We review features that have been found to be specific for quantum theory separably or single and joint systems.
Chapter 2 incorporates results published in [J. Phys. A 47(32), pp. 1-32 (2014)] and [Proc. QPL 2011 via EPTCS vol. 95, pp. 183–192 (2012)]. The GPT framework is applied to show how the structure of local state spaces indirectly affects possible nonlocal correlations, which are global properties of a theory. These correlations are stronger than those possible in a classical theory, but happen to show different restrictions that can be linked to the structure of subsystems. We first illustrate the phenomenon with toy theories with particular local state spaces. We than show that a particular class of joint states (inner product states), whose existence depends on geometrical properties of the local subsystems, can only have correlations for a known limited set called Q1. All bipartite correlations of both, quantum and classical correlations, can be mapped to measurement statistics from such joint states.
Chapter 3 shows unpublished results on entanglement swapping in GPTs. This protocol, which is well known in quantum information theory, allows to nonlocally transfer entanglement to initially unentangled parties with the help of a third party that shares entanglement with each. We review our approach published in [Proc. QPL 2011 via EPTCS vol. 95, pp. 183–192 (2012)], which mimics the joint systems' structure of quantum theory by modifying a popular toy theory known as boxworld. However, it is illustrated that this approach fails for bigger multipartite systems due to inconsistencies evoked by entanglement swapping. It turns out that the GPT framework does not allow entanglement swapping for general subsystems with two-dimensional state spaces with transitive pure states. Altering the GPT framework to allow completely globally degrees of freedom, however, enables us to construct consistent entanglement swapping for these subsystems. This construction resembles the situation in quantum theory on a real Hilbert space.
A questionable assumption usually taken in the standard GPT framework is the so-called no-restriction hypothesis. It states that the measurement that are possible in a theory can be derived from the state space. In fact, this assumption seems to exist for reasons of mathematical convenience, but it seems to lack physical motivation. We generalize the GPT framework to also account for systems that do not obey the no-restriction hypothesis in Chapter 4, which presents results published in [Phys. Rev. A 87, 052131 (2013)] and [Proc. QPL 2013, to be published in EPTCS]. The extended framework includes new classes of probabilistic theories. As an example, we show how to construct theories that include intrinsic noise. We also provide a "self-dualization" procedure that requires the violation of the no-restriction hypothesis. This procedure restricts the measurement of arbitrary theories such that the theories act as if they were self-dual. Self-duality has recently gathered lots of interest, since such theories share many features of quantum theory. For example Tsirelson’s bound holds for correlations on the maximally entangled state in these theories. Finally, we characterize the maximal set of joint states that can be consistently defined for given subsystems. This generalizes the maximal tensor product of the standard GPT framework.

The outcomes of measurements on entangled quantum systems can be nonlocally correlated. However, while it is easy to write down toy theories allowing arbitrary nonlocal correlations, those allowed in quantum mechanics are limited. Quantum correlations cannot, for example, violate a principle known as macroscopic locality, which implies that they cannot violate Tsirelson’s bound. This paper shows that there is a connection between the strength of nonlocal correlations in a physical theory and the structure of the state spaces of individual systems. This is illustrated by a family of models in which local state spaces are regular polygons, where a natural analogue of a maximally entangled state of two systems exists. We characterize the nonlocal correlations obtainable from such states. The family allows us to study the transition between classical, quantum and super-quantum correlations by varying only the local state space. We show that the strength of nonlocal correlations—in particular whether the maximally entangled state violates Tsirelson’s bound or not— depends crucially on a simple geometric property of the local state space, known as strong self-duality. This result is seen to be a special case of a general theorem, which states that a broad class of entangled states in probabilistic theories—including, by extension, all bipartite classical and quantum states— cannot violate macroscopic locality. Finally, our results show that models exist that are locally almost indistinguishable from quantum mechanics, but can nevertheless generate maximally nonlocal correlations.