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Abstract

The fact that closed timelike curves (CTCs) are permitted by general relativity raises the question as to how quantum systems behave when time travel to the past occurs. Research into answering this question by utilizing the quantum circuit formalism has given rise to two theories: Deutschian-CTCs (D-CTCs) and “postselected” CTCs (P-CTCs). In this paper the quantum circuit approach is thoroughly reviewed, and the strengths and shortcomings of D-CTCs and P-CTCs are presented in view of their nonlinearity and time-travel paradoxes. In particular, the “equivalent circuit model”—which aims to make equivalent predictions to D-CTCs, while avoiding some of the difficulties of the original theory—is shown to contain errors. The discussion of D-CTCs and P-CTCs is used to motivate an analysis of the features one might require of a theory of quantum time travel, following which two overlapping classes of alternate theories are identified. One such theory, the theory of “transition probability” CTCs (T-CTCs), is fully developed. The theory of T-CTCs is shown not to have certain undesirable features—such as time-travel paradoxes, the ability to distinguish nonorthogonal states with certainty, and the ability to clone or delete arbitrary pure states—that are present with D-CTCs and P-CTCs. The problems with nonlinear extensions to quantum mechanics are discussed in relation to the interpretation of these theories, and the physical motivations of all three theories are discussed and compared.

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