The quantized detector network (QDN) formalism was designed from the outset to deal with detector networks of arbitrary complexity and rank. However, there is a price to be paid. A qubit register of rank r is a Hilbert space of dimension 2r, so the dimensionality of quantized detector networks grows exponentially with rank. For example, a relatively small system of, say, 10 detectors involves a Hilbert space of dimension 210 = 1, 024.
Even such a relatively small system cannot be dealt with easily by manual calculation, because quantum mechanics (QM) involves entangled states. Labstates in QDN are far more complex (in the sense of having far more mathematical structure) than the corresponding states in a classical register of the same rank. Some of the mathematical entanglement and separability properties of quantum labstates are discussed in Chapters 22 and 23.
The quantum entanglement structure of labstates poses a ubiquitous and serious problem, for both theorists and experimentalists. At this time, there is significant interest in quantum entanglement, particularly regarding its use in quantum computing, but theoretical understanding of entanglement is still surprisingly limited.
On the experimental side, quantum computers with 2000 qubits are currently being developed (D-Wave Systems, 2016). There is scope here for the application of QDN to networks of rank going into the many thousands. For those sorts of systems under observation (SUOs), quantum entanglement makes calculations by hand far too laborious to be of any practical use.
Fortunately, three factors come to our aid here, making the application of QDN to large-rank networks a potentially viable proposition.
We saw in previous chapters that QDN deals with discrete aspects of observation, despite the fact that standard QM and relativistic quantum field theory (RQFT) deal with continuous degrees of freedom. This discreteness comes in three forms, referred to us as stages, nodes, and modules, and all of that is due to three inescapable physical facts. First, all real observations take time and involve discrete signals in finite numbers of detectors. Second, real apparatus is constructed from atoms, not continua. Third, these atoms form finite numbers of well-characterized modules, as discussed in the previous chapter.
A critically helpful fact here is that in any particular experiment, the contextual subspaces that the observer needs to deal with will usually be of significantly lower dimensions than that of the full quantum registers involved.