A mathematical construct used to study the effect of applying two operators in succession.

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33
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4answers
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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 ...
21
votes
5answers
1k views

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 ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

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 ...
13
votes
2answers
925 views

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 $$\phi(x)\phi^\dagger(y)\ne0.$$ ...
11
votes
2answers
439 views

Why uncertainty principle is not like this?

In Griffiths' QM, he uses two inequalities (here numbered as $(1)$ and $(2)$) to prove the following general uncertainty principle: $$\sigma_A^2 \sigma_B^2\geq\left(\frac{1}{2i}\langle [\hat A ,\hat ...
10
votes
5answers
12k views

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 ...
9
votes
2answers
681 views

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 ...
8
votes
3answers
878 views

Eigenstate of position+momentum?

I'm studying Quantum Mechanics on my own, so I'm bound to have alot of wrong ideas - please be forgiving! Recently, I was thinking about the quantum mechanical assertion (postulate?) that states with ...
8
votes
2answers
543 views

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 ...
7
votes
2answers
120 views

Dilation operator in CFT viewed as 'hamiltonian'?

From the commutation relations for the conformal Lie algebra, we may infer that the dilation operator plays the same role as the Hamiltonian in CFTs. The appropriate commutation relations are ...
7
votes
1answer
321 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
270 views

Theories with non-vanishing commutators outside the lightcone

I'm reading Weinberg's new book on Quantum Mechanics, and in Chapter 8.7 "Time-Dependent Perturbation Theory" he derives the usual Dyson series for the $S$ matrix when the interaction Hamiltonian ...
7
votes
1answer
351 views

Find $\hat{x}$ operator given $\hat{p}$ operator

This is problem $1.2$ of Molecular Quantum Mechanics by Atkins, 4th edition. I'm given the momentum operator $$p=\sqrt{\frac{\hbar}{2m}}(A+B)$$ with $$[A,B]=1$$ and I need to find $x$ in this ...
6
votes
3answers
332 views

Commutator with a square root

How to find the commutator $[a, \sqrt{a^\dagger a}]$? Here $a$ is a usual bosonic annihilation operator, and $[a, a^\dagger] = 1$. The first thing I tried is $$ [x,A] = [x, \sqrt{A}]\sqrt{A} + ...
6
votes
4answers
464 views

Does uncertainty imply noncommutativity?

We already know that non-commutativity of observables leads to uncertainty in quantum mechanics cf. e.g. this and this Phys.SE post. What about the opposite: Does uncertainty imply noncommutativity? ...
6
votes
2answers
261 views

How does the proof of operator commutativity work with non-continuous operators?

In some books, a proof that if two self-adjoint operators $A$ and $B$ share a common eigenbasis $\{\phi_n\}$, then they commute is given as follows : For any $\phi_n$, $$AB\ \phi_n = a_n\ ...
6
votes
2answers
426 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: ...
6
votes
2answers
226 views

How to replace $T$-product with retarded commutator in LSZ formula?

I am reading Itzykson and Zuber's Quantum Field Theory book, and am unable to understand a step that is made on page 246: Here, they consider the elastic scattering of particle $A$ off particle $B$: ...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

Proof of Canonical Commutation Relation (CCR)

I am not sure how $QP-PQ =i\hbar$ where $P$ represent momentum and $Q$ represent position. $Q$ and $P$ are matrices. The question would be, how can $Q$ and $P$ be formulated as a matrix? Also, what is ...
5
votes
2answers
358 views

Heisenberg picture of QM as a result of Hamilton formalism

Let's have formula of full time-derivative of physical value in Poisson's formalism: $$\tag{1} \frac{df}{dt} = -[H, f]_{P. br.} + \frac{\partial f}{\partial t}, $$ where $[A, B]_{P. br.}$ is Poisson's ...
5
votes
3answers
277 views

Evaluating commutator of $[\operatorname{sign}(X),\, \operatorname{sign}(P)]$

I wish to evaluate the following commutator: $[\operatorname{sign}(X),\, \operatorname{sign}(P)]$. Is there a general method for evaluating $[\operatorname{f}(X), \operatorname{f}(P)]$? I thought of a ...
5
votes
2answers
795 views

Why are anticommutators needed in quantization of Dirac fields?

Why is the anticommutator actually needed in the canonical quantization of free Dirac field?
5
votes
2answers
160 views

Do we need to expand the potential in a power series to show $[x, V(x)] = 0$?

Today in class (Intro to QM) we went over a couple of commutators. Among them was $[x, V]$, where $V=V(x)$ is a potential. What the teacher said to prove this is zero was: let's assume $V$ is analytic ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Translator Operator

In Modern Quantum Mechanics by Sakurai, at page 46 while deriving commutator of translator operator with position operator, he uses $$\left| x+dx\right\rangle \simeq \left| x \right\rangle.$$ But for ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
346 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
118 views

Why don't we use Hamilton-Jacobi method in QM?

In classical mechanics, we usually try to find a set of coordinates by Hamilton-Jacobi method to transform the Hamiltonian to zero such that the coordinates are conservations. However, we never try ...
5
votes
3answers
295 views

What is the commutator of an operator and its derivative?

Is it possible to calculate in a general way the commutator of an operator $O$ which depends on some variable $x$ and the derivative of this $O$ with respect to $x$? $${O}={O}(x)\\ ...
5
votes
0answers
89 views

Commutator as a time-ordered product

I'm reading through Seiberg and Witten's paper "String Theory and Noncommutative Geometry," and one part in $\S$2.1 isn't quite clear to me. (Sorry, in advance, for the length.) My question is about ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Canonical Commutation Relations

Is it logically sound to accept the canonical commutation relation (CCR) $$[x,p]~=~i\hbar$$ as a postulate of quantum mechanics? Or is it more correct to derive it given some form for $p$ in the ...
4
votes
3answers
505 views

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 ...
4
votes
4answers
386 views

Is uncertainty principle a technical difficulty in measurement?

I have searched for an answer to this question on physics SE but I have not seen a question in which it is addressed properly. Please let me know if there is an answer already. My question briefly ...
4
votes
2answers
809 views

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
votes
2answers
381 views

Proof for commutator relation $[\hat{H},\hat{a}] = - \hbar \omega \hat{a}$

I know how to derive below equations found on wikipedia and have done it myselt too: \begin{align} \hat{H} &= \hbar \omega \left(\hat{a}^\dagger\hat{a} + \frac{1}{2}\right)\\ \hat{H} &= ...
4
votes
3answers
966 views

Index Manipulation and Angular Momentum Commutator Relations

I have been trying for hours and cannot figure it out. I am not asking anyone to do it for me, but to understand how to proceed. We have the relations $$[L_i,p_j] ~=~ i\hbar\; \epsilon_{ijk}p_k,$$ ...
4
votes
1answer
182 views

Does This Really “Prove” Spin-statistics Theorem?

In quantization of scalar field theory we impose commutation relation between the field operators by hand and similarly we impose anti-commutation relation between Dirac field operators by hand. As a ...
4
votes
2answers
95 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
136 views

Commutation relations of the generators of the conformal group

My question is from P.98 of the book by Di Francesco on Conformal Field theory. He gives the six non-vanishing commutation relations between the elements $P_{\mu}, D, L_{\mu \nu}$ and $K_{\mu}$ ...
4
votes
2answers
240 views

Star product of two commuting spinors

Ok so this might be a very stupid and trivial question but I have spent a couple of hours on this little problem. I am trying to derive a simple formula in a paper. We have a real commuting spinorial ...
4
votes
1answer
140 views

QED Commutation Relations Implications

In Brian Hatfield's book on QFT and Strings there is the following quote: In particular $$ [A_i (x,t), E_j(y,t)] = -i \delta_{ij}\delta(x-y) $$ implies that $$ [A_i(x,t),\nabla \cdot E(y,t)] = ...
4
votes
1answer
171 views

Why Must Conserved Currents of Lorentz Symmetry Satisfy the Lorentz Algebra

I've seen it written many times that the commutation relation $[M^{I-},M^{J-}]=0$ is required for Lorentz invariance in the light cone gauge quantisation of the bosonic string. This follows ...
4
votes
2answers
437 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
185 views

Quantizing the Dirac Field: which commutation relations are more fundamental?

When quantizing a system, what is the more (physically) fundamental commutation relation, $[q,p]$ or $[a,a^\dagger]$? (or are they completely equivalent?) For instance, in Peskin & Schroeder's ...
4
votes
3answers
449 views

Generalizing Heisenberg Uncertainty Priniciple

Writing the relationship between canonical momenta $\pi _i$ and canonical coordinates $x_i$ $$\pi _i =\text{ }\frac{\partial \mathcal{L}}{\partial \left(\frac{\partial x_i}{\partial t}\right)}$$ ...
4
votes
2answers
336 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
316 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Compatible Observables

My QM book says that when two observables are compatible, then the order in which we carry out measurements is irrelevant. When you carry out a measurement corresponding to an operator $A$, the ...
4
votes
1answer
845 views

The implication of anti-commutation relations in quantum mechanics

All the textbooks I saw are very clear about the implications of commutating operators in quantum mechanics. However, much less is said about anti-commutation relations. Does it have a general ...
4
votes
1answer
148 views

Time-ordered Derivative and Equal-time Commutator

In Green, Schwarz & Witten Superstring theory, Vol. I, page 141, I don't understand how pulling the derivative inside the Time-ordered product can give an Equal-time Commutator: $$\tag{3.2.44} ...
4
votes
1answer
230 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 ...