ABSTRACT: State representations summarize our knowledge about a system. When unobservable quantities are introduced the state representation is typically no longer unique. However, this nonuniqueness does not affect subsequent inferences based on any observable data. We demonstrate that the inference-free subspace may be extracted whenever the quantity's unobservability is guaranteed by a global conservation law. This result can generalize even without such a guarantee. In particular, we examine the coherent-state representation of a laser, where the absolute phase of the electromagnetic field is believed to be unobservable. We show that experimental coherent states may be separated from the inference-free subspaces induced by this unobservable phase. These physical states may then be approximated by coherent states in a relative-phase Hilbert space.