Bohmian mechanics without pilot waves

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In David Bohm's causal/trajectory interpretation of quantum mechanics, a physical system is regarded as consisting of both a particle and a wavefunction, where the latter "pilots" the trajectory evolution of the former. In this paper, we show that it is possible to discard the pilot wave concept altogether, thus developing a complete mathematical formulation of time-dependent quantum mechanics directly in terms of real-valued trajectories alone. Moreover, by introducing a kinematic definition of the quantum potential, a generalized action extremization principle can be derived. The latter places very severe a priori restrictions on the set of allowable theoretical structures for a dynamical theory, though this set is shown to include both classical mechanics and quantum mechanics as members. Beneficial numerical ramifications of the above, "trajectories only" approach are also discussed, in the context of simple benchmark applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-14
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Physics
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - May 12 2010


  • Bohmian mechanics
  • Interpretation of quantum mechanics
  • Pilot wave
  • Quantum trajectory methods
  • Time-dependent quantum mechanics
  • Trajectory formulation of quantum mechanics


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