Abstract:
Quantum causal histories are defined to be causal sets with Hilbert spaces attached to each event and local unitary evolution operators. The reflexivity, antisymmetry, and transitivity properties of a causal set are preserved in the quantum history as conditions on the evolution operators. A quantum causal history in which transitivity holds can be treated as ``directed'' topological quantum field theory. Two examples of such histories are described.

Abstract:
We propose that Kreimer's method of Feynman diagram renormalization via a Hopf algebra of rooted trees can be fruitfully employed in the analysis of block spin renormalization or coarse graining of inhomogeneous statistical systems. Examples of such systems include spin foam formulations of non-perturbative quantum gravity as well as lattice gauge and spin systems on irregular lattices and/or with spatially varying couplings. We study three examples which are Z_2 lattice gauge theory on irregular 2-dimensional lattices, Ising/Potts models with varying bond strengths and (1+1)-dimensional spin foam models.

Abstract:
We formulate the problem of finding the low-energy limit of spin foam models as a coarse-graining problem in the sense of statistical physics. This suggests that renormalization group methods may be used to find that limit. However, since spin foams are models of spacetime at Planck scale, novel issues arise: these microscopic models are sums over irregular, background-independent lattices. We show that all of these issues can be addressed by the recent application of the Kreimer Hopf algebra for quantum field theory renormalization to non-perturbative statistical physics. The main difference from standard renormalization group is that the Hopf algebra executes block transformations in parts of the lattice only but in a controlled manner so that the end result is a fully block-transformed lattice.

Abstract:
A review is given of recent work aimed at constructing a quantum theory of cosmology in which all observables refer to information measurable by observers inside the universe. At the classical level the algebra of observables should be modified to take into account the fact that observers can only give truth values to observables that have to do with their backwards light cone. The resulting algebra is a Heyting rather than a Boolean algebra. The complement is non-trivial and contains information about horizons and topology change. Representation of such observables quantum mechanically requires a many-Hilbert space formalism, in which different observers make measurements in different Hilbert spaces. I describe such a formalism, called "quantum causal histories"; examples include causally evolving spin networks and quantum computers.

Abstract:
We describe an algebraic way to code the causal information of a discrete spacetime. The causal set C is transformed to a description in terms of the causal pasts of the events in C. This is done by an evolving set, a functor which to each event of C assigns its causal past. Evolving sets obey a Heyting algebra which is characterised by a non-standard notion of complement. Conclusions about the causal structure of the causal set can be drawn by calculating the complement of the evolving set. A causal quantum theory can be based on the quantum version of evolving sets, which we briefly discuss.

Abstract:
We illustrate the relationship between spin networks and their dual representation by labelled triangulations of space in 2+1 and 3+1 dimensions. We apply this to the recent proposal for causal evolution of spin networks. The result is labelled spatial triangulations evolving with transition amplitudes given by labelled spacetime simplices. The formalism is very similar to simplicial gravity, however, the triangulations represent combinatorics and not an approximation to the spatial manifold. The distinction between future and past nodes which can be ordered in causal sets also exists here. Spacelike and timelike slices can be defined and the foliation is allowed to vary. We clarify the choice of the two rules in the causal spin network evolution, and the assumption of trivalent spin networks for 2+1 spacetime dimensions and four-valent for 3+1. As a direct application, the problem of the exponential growth of the causal model is remedied. The result is a clear and more rigid graphical understanding of evolution of combinatorial spin networks, on which further work can be based.

Abstract:
It is often said that in general relativity time does not exist. This is because the Einstein equations generate motion in time that is a symmetry of the theory, not true time evolution. In quantum gravity, the timelessness of general relativity clashes with time in quantum theory and leads to the ``problem of time'' which, in its various forms, is the main obstacle to a successful quantum theory of gravity. I argue that the problem of time is a paradox, stemming from an unstated faulty premise. Our faulty assumption is that space is real. I propose that what does not fundamentally exist is not time but space, geometry and gravity. The quantum theory of gravity will be spaceless, not timeless. If we are willing to throw out space, we can keep time and the trade is worth it.

Abstract:
The idea that the Universe is a program in a giant quantum computer is both fascinating and suffers from various problems. Nonetheless, it can provide a unified picture of physics and this can be very useful for the problem of Quantum Gravity where such a unification is necessary. In previous work we proposed Quantum Graphity, a simple way to model a dynamical spacetime as a quantum computation. In this paper, we give an easily readable introduction to the idea of the universe as a quantum computation, the problem of quantum gravity, and the graphity models.

Abstract:
We discuss the meaning of background independence in quantum theories of gravity where geometry and gravity are emergent and illustrate the possibilities using the framework of quantum causal histories.

Abstract:
We discuss the difficulties that background independent theories based on quantum geometry encounter in deriving general relativity as the low energy limit. We follow a geometrogenesis scenario of a phase transition from a pre-geometric theory to a geometric phase which suggests that a first step towards the low energy limit is searching for the effective collective excitations that will characterize it. Using the correspondence between the pre-geometric background independent theory and a quantum information processor, we are able to use the method of noiseless subsystems to extract such coherent collective excitations. We illustrate this in the case of locally evolving graphs.