A mathematical construct quantifying the difference in effect of applying two operators in two alternate successions. It is the defining product of a Lie algebra, the efficient underlying description of Lie groups, of use in several areas of physics, most notably quantum field theory.

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What does the Canonical Commutation Relation (CCR) tell me about the overlap between Position and Momentum bases?

I'm curious whether I can find the overlap $\langle q | p \rangle$ knowing only the following: $|q\rangle$ is an eigenvector of an operator $Q$ with eigenvalue $q$. $|p\rangle$ is an eigenvector of ...
5
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2answers
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Proving that $i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial \mathbf{p}}$ is the operator of $\mathbf{x}$ in momentum space

How can I prove that $i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial \mathbf{p}}$ is the operator of $\mathbf{x}$ in momentum space?
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2answers
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Why are anticommutators needed in quantization of Dirac fields?

Why is the anticommutator actually needed in the canonical quantization of free Dirac field?
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What is the connection between Poisson brackets and commutators?

The Poisson bracket is defined as: $$\{f,g\}_{PB} ~:=~ \sum_{i=1}^{N} \left[ \frac{\partial f}{\partial q_{i}} \frac{\partial g}{\partial p_{i}} - \frac{\partial f}{\partial p_{i}} \frac{\partial ...
9
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1answer
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Momentum as Generator of Translations

I understand from some studies in mathematics, that the generator of translations is given by the operator $\frac{d}{dx}$. Similarly, I know from quantum mechanics that the momentum operator is ...
17
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Understanding Poisson brackets

In quantum mechanics, when two observables commute, it implies that the two can be measured simultaneously without perturbing each other's measurement results. Or in other words, the uncertainty in ...
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2k views

Commutator algebra in exponents

Considering $X$ and $Y$ such that $[X,Y]=\lambda$, which is complex, and $\mu$ is another complex number, prove: $$e^{\mu(X+Y)}=e^{\mu X} e^{\mu Y} e^{-\mu^2\lambda/2}$$ My attempt (so far) is: ...
5
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1answer
957 views

What physical significance has the Heisenberg Group?

I read that the canonical commutation relation between momentum and position can be seen as the Lie Algebra of the Heisenberg group. While I get why the commutation relations of momentum and momentum, ...
45
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What is the physical meaning of commutators in quantum mechanics?

This is a question I've been asked several times by students and I tend to have a hard time phrasing it in terms they can understand. This is a natural question to ask and it is not usually well ...
6
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4answers
830 views

Is uncertainty principle a technical difficulty in measurement? [duplicate]

Is the uncertainty principle a technical difficulty in measurement or is it an intrinsic concept in quantum mechanics irrelevant of any measurement? Everyone knows the thought experiment of measuring ...
1
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2answers
2k views

Prove $[A,B^n] = nB^{n-1}[A,B]$

I am trying to show that $[A,B^n] = nB^{n-1}[A,B]$ where A and B are two Hermitian operators that commute with their commutator. However, I am running into a little problem and would like a hint of ...
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Trace of a commutator is zero - but what about the commutator of $x$ and $p$?

Operators can be cyclically interchanged inside a trace: $${\rm Tr} (AB)~=~{\rm Tr} (BA).$$ This means the trace of a commutator of any two operators is zero: $${\rm Tr} ([A,B])~=~0.$$ But what about ...
18
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7answers
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What is the Physical Meaning of Commutation of Two Operators?

I understand the mathematics of commutation relations and anti-commutation relations, but what does it physically mean for an observable (self-adjoint operator) to commute with another observable ...
3
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2answers
204 views

Can we correctly define momentum operator only by means of position operator and their commutation relation?

In "J.M. Ziman. Electrons and Phonons: The Theory of Transport Phenomena in Solids" the author formally introduces the position (displacement) operator and then defines the momentum operator with the ...
6
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3answers
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Does the canonical commutation relation fix the form of the momentum operator?

For one dimensional quantum mechanics $$[\hat{x},\hat{p}]=i\hbar $$ Does this fix univocally the form of the $\hat{p}$ operator? My bet is no because $\hat{p}$ actually depends if we are on ...
3
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1answer
228 views

What is the physical importance of the commutation relations of angular momentum?

What is the physical meaning of these commutation relations: $$[L_{z},L_{\pm}]=\pm\hbar L_{\pm}\tag{1}$$ and $$[L_{+},L_{-}]=2\hbar L_{z} ~?\tag{2}$$
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1answer
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Commutator $[\hat{p},F(\hat{x})]$ of Momentum $\hat{p}$ with a Position dependent function $F(\hat{x})$?

I heard from my GSI that the commutator of momentum with a position dependent quantity is always $-i\hbar$ times the derivative of the position dependent quantity. Can someone point me towards a ...
5
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1answer
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Finding the creation/annihilation operators

Using Minkowski signature $(+,-,-,-)$, for the Lagrangian density $${\cal L}=\partial_{\mu}\phi\partial^{\mu}\phi^{\dagger}-m^2\phi \phi^{\dagger}$$ of the complex scalar field, we have the field ...
5
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2answers
577 views

Heisenberg picture of QM as a result of Hamilton formalism

Consider the formula for the total time-derivative of a physical value in Poisson's formalism: $$\tag{1} \frac{dA}{dt} = -\{H, A\}_{P.B.} + \frac{\partial A}{\partial t}, $$ where $\{A, B\}_{P.B.}$ is ...
2
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3answers
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Commutators involving functions

I am looking for the commutator: $$[e^{aq},p]$$ My approach is to Taylor expand the function: $$[\sum_n \frac{1}{n!}(aq)^n,p]$$ I know that $[q^n,p]=ni\hbar q^{n-1}$ So how do I account for $n$ ...
2
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1answer
789 views

Matrix representation for fermionic annihilation operator

My guess it should look something like this: $ c_\sigma = ...
22
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6answers
2k views

Is there something behind non-commuting observables?

Consider a quantum system described by the Hilbert space $\mathcal{H}$ and consider $A,B\in \mathcal{L}(\mathcal{H},\mathcal{H})$ to be observables. If those observables do not commute there's no ...
17
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2answers
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In QFT, why does a vanishing commutator ensure causality?

In relativistic quantum field theories (QFT), $$[\phi(x),\phi^\dagger(y)] = 0 \;\;\mathrm{if}\;\; (x-y)^2<0$$ On the other hand, even for space-like separation $$\phi(x)\phi^\dagger(y)\ne0.$$ ...
9
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2answers
513 views

Motivating Complexification of Lie Algebras?

What is the motivation for complexifying a Lie algebra? In quantum mechanical angular momentum the commutation relations $$[J_x,J_y]=iJ_z, \quad [J_y,J_z] = iJ_x,\quad [J_z,J_x] = iJ_y$$ become, on ...
5
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2answers
280 views

Tricky operator identity: $[L^2,[L^2,\vec{r}]]=2 \hbar ^2 \{ L^2, \vec{r}\}$?

This operator identity showed up in a course I was taking, and it was given without proof. $$[L^2,[L^2,\vec{r}]]=2 \hbar ^2 \{ L^2, \vec{r}\}$$ The curly brackets denote the anticommutator, $AB+BA$. ...
4
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2answers
744 views

What is the most general expression for the coordinate representation of momentum operator?

I have a question about deriving the coordinate representation of momentum operator from the commutation relation, $[x,p]= i$. One derivation (ref W. Greiner's Quantum Mechanics: An Introduction, 4th ...
3
votes
1answer
508 views

What conservation law corresponds to this local $U(1)$ symmetry of the CCR?

It is known that canonical commutation relations do not fix the form of momentum operator. That means that if canonical commutation relations (CCR) are given by ...
2
votes
1answer
270 views

Help Simplifying a Commutator Equation

For the SHO, our teacher told us to scale $$p\rightarrow \sqrt{m\omega\hbar} ~p$$ $$x\rightarrow \sqrt{\frac{\hbar}{m\omega}}~x$$ And then define the following $$K_1=\frac 14 (p^2-q^2)$$ $$K_2=\frac ...
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3answers
847 views

Simple Quantum Mechanics Question about The Commutator of Translation Operators

Say there is $\hat{J} = \exp[-i \hat{p} l/ \hbar]$ and $\hat{U}= \exp[-i\hat{H}t/ \hbar]$, where $\hat{H}$ is time-independent. Can we say anything about $[\hat{J},\hat{U}]$? Is it zero? How do we ...
5
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2answers
729 views

Imposing anti-commutation relations on fermionic quasi-particles

In many theories of CMT, we assume the nature of quasi-particles (without giving proper justifications). For example, we assume nature of quasi-particles to be fermionic in case of a interacting ...
3
votes
1answer
167 views

prove: $[p^2,f] = 2 \frac{\hbar}{i}\frac{df}{dx}p - \hbar^2 \frac{d^2f}{dx^2}$

I need to prove the commutation relation, $$[p^2,f] = 2 \frac{\hbar}{i}\frac{\partial f}{\partial x} p - \hbar^2 \frac{\partial^2 f}{\partial x^2}$$ where $f \equiv f(\vec{r})$ and $\vec{p} = p_x ...
0
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2answers
159 views

Determine $p_x$ from $[x,p_x]=i\hbar $ [closed]

With $[x,p_x]=i\hbar $, how to determine the form of the operator $p_x$?
8
votes
2answers
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Does the commutator of anything with itself not vanish?

In a quantum mechanics exam one question was to write the commutator of a couple of operators. Everybody got points taken away since they did not write $[Q_i, Q_i] = 0$ for all the operators $Q_i$ in ...
5
votes
1answer
480 views

Moyal Product in Non Commutative Quantum Mechanics

Can someone please explain me what is a Moyal product? Also, how does putting $$X_a(\psi) ~=~ x_a\star\psi$$ realise $$[X_a,X_b]=i\theta_{ab}{\bf 1}?$$ Ref: Quantum mechanics on non-commutative ...
4
votes
2answers
603 views

Unitary spacetime translation operator

Srednicki writes: We can make this a little fancier by defining the unitary spacetime translation operator $$ T(a) \equiv \exp(-iP^\mu a_\mu/ \hbar) $$ Then we have $$ T(a)^{-1} \phi(x) T(a) = ...
2
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1answer
120 views

Canonical Commutation Relations in arbitrary Canonical Coordinates

If one were to formulate quantum mechanics in an arbitrary canonical coordinate system, does he impose canonical commutation relations using Dirac's recipe? ...
1
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1answer
224 views

How is quantization related to commutation? [duplicate]

How are commutation (of observables) and quantization related? Reading about the Stone-Von Neumann Theorem, it seems that commutativity is the classical limit of quantum mechanics, and hence ...
7
votes
3answers
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Why Don't the Ladder Operators Commute?

I have two problems with ladder operators. The first is that I feel they should somehow result in measurable things. The asymmetry of applying the plus operator versus the minus operator is very ...
7
votes
1answer
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Commutator of Lorentz boost generators : visual interpretation

I have always struggled to visualize the correctness of the commutation relation for the generators of the boost in the Lorentz group. We have $$[K_i,K_j] = i \epsilon_{ijk} L_k$$ I fail to picture ...
7
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1answer
395 views

Canonical quantization in supersymmetric quantum mechanics

Suppose you have a theory of maps $\phi: {\cal T} \to M$ with $M$ some Riemannian manifold, Lagrangian $$L~=~ \frac12 g_{ij}\dot\phi^i\dot\phi^j + \frac{i}{2}g_{ij}(\overline{\psi}^i ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Commutator with exponential $[A, \exp(B)]$

How can I tell if $A$ and $\exp(B)$ commute? For $[A, B]$ it's simply $AB-BA$ and for $[\exp(A), \exp(B)]$ I think it'd be $\exp(A)\exp(B) - \exp(B)\exp(A) = \exp(A+B) - \exp(B+A) = 0$. Update: it's ...
4
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2answers
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Deriving the Angular Momentum Commutator Relations by using $\epsilon_{ijk}$ Identities

I've been trying to derive the relation $$[\hat L_i,\hat L_j] = i\hbar\epsilon_{ijk} \hat L_k $$ without doing each permutation of ${x,y,z}$ individually, but I'm not really getting anywhere. ...
4
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1answer
266 views

State space of QFT, CCR and quantization, and the spectrum of a field operator?

In the canonical quantization of fields, CCR is postulated as (for scalar boson field ): $$[\phi(x),\pi(y)]=i\delta(x-y)\qquad\qquad(1)$$ in analogy with the ordinary QM commutation relation: ...
3
votes
3answers
431 views

How to derive $[x_i, F(\vec p)] = i \hbar \frac {\partial F(\vec p)}{\partial p_i}$

Wikipedia indicates that the following relation is "easily shown": $[x_i, F(\vec p)] = i \hbar \frac {\partial F(\vec p)}{\partial p_i}$, however I'm having some trouble showing it. I think I'm just ...
4
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2answers
581 views

Classical Limit of Commutator

In Dirac's book Principles of quantum mechanics (4th ed., pgs 87-88), he seems to give a very elementary argument as to how the commutator $[X,P]$ reduces to the Poisson brackets ${x,p}$ in the limit ...
3
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1answer
325 views

The Physical Meaning behind a Commutator [duplicate]

I've just been introduced to the idea of commutators and I'm aware that it's not a trivial thing if two operators $A$ and $B$ commute, i.e. if two Hermitian operators commute then the eigenvalues of ...
4
votes
2answers
195 views

Derivation of canonical position-momentum commutator relation

We know that the position-momentum commutator is fundamental in quantum mechanics, but would it be possible to derive it starting from a different set of first principles, more specifically starting ...
2
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1answer
774 views

Quantum mechanical analogue of conjugate momentum

In classical mechanics, we define the concept of canonical momentum conjugate to a given generalised position coordinate. This quantity is the partial derivative of the Lagrangian of the system, with ...
6
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2answers
674 views

Causality and Quantum Field Theory

I have a problem with proof of causality in Peskin & Schroeder, An Introduction to QFT, page 28. To avoid confusion I use three vectors notation, rewriting the Eq. (2.53) for $y=0$ as follows: ...
5
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1answer
657 views

Do mutual eigenkets imply commutation of two operators?

I have been working on this question. I have solved it, and I would like to check whether my line of reasoning is right or wrong Question: Prove that if there exists a mutual complete set of ...