Numbers of the form $\{z= x+ i\,y:\;x,\, y\in\mathbb{R}\}$ where $i^2 = -1$. Useful especially as quantum mechanics, where system states take complex vector values.

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The derivation of the irreducible representations of the Lorentz group

I took the way of classification of Lorentz group representations from Sexl, Urbantke, Relativity, groups and particles (Germ. ed. 1975). But I don't understand it as I outline in the following: In ...
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2answers
273 views

What do “ℜe” and “A*” mean?

What do "$\mathfrak{Re}$" and "A*" mean in the following equation (taken from James Binney and David Skinner's QM lecture notes, equation 1.12), \begin{align} p(S\text{ or ...
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3answers
68 views

Born Interpretation of Wave Function

I have just started Griffiths Intro to QM. I was studying Born's interpretation of Wave function and it says that the square of the modulus of the wave function is a measure of the probability of ...
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1answer
160 views

Integral over a product of two Green's functions

Need some help here on a frequently encountered integral in Green's function formalism. Forgive me since I am a junior student. I have an integral/summation as a product of a retarded and advanced ...
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59 views

Does Quantum Mechanics need imaginary numbers? [duplicate]

In quantum mechanics, we assume wavefunctions are complex valued, and that probability amplitudes are given by the modulus of the wavefunction squared. This formalism can correctly explain ...
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11answers
5k views

QM without complex numbers

I am trying to understand how complex numbers made their way into QM. Can we have a theory of the same physics without complex numbers? If so, is the theory using complex numbers easier?
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1answer
54 views

Are the pion fields in chiral perturbation theory complex or real fields?

The chiral perturbation theory Lagrangian is written $$\mathcal{L}_2=\frac{f_{\pi}^2}{4}Tr(D_{\mu}U^{\dagger}D^{\mu}U)$$ where $$U=e^{i\sqrt{2}\Phi/f}$$ and $$\Phi= \begin{pmatrix} ...
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1answer
49 views

Time-harmonic Maxwell's equations

My question is about the time-harmonic or frequency domain (differential) form of Maxwell's equations. If one solves these and obtain the complex vector field $E$, are the real and imaginary parts ...
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2answers
363 views

Why do we must initially assume that the wavefunction is complex?

The sound waves are real, and they can interfere, so corresponding apparat may be used in quantum mechanics. We also may use the time dependence in a form of orthogonal matrix multiplying the initial ...
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1answer
128 views

Why can't quantum field theory be quaternion instead of complex?

So, the definition of QFT in terms of path integrals is that the partition function is: $$Z[J] \propto \int e^{iS[\phi]+J.\phi} D[\phi]$$ But does it have any meaning if instead of this $U(1)$ ...
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1answer
85 views

What is the difference between real orbital & complex orbital?

While reading Atomic orbitals, I came before these two terms. The 'real orbital' is given here: Real orbitals An atom that is embedded in a crystalline solid feels multiple preferred axes, ...
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26 views

Complex charge of a Hertzian Dipole

Im breaking my head over the solution of an old exam problem: Given is the following hertzian dipole: Given are also the equations: $I(t) = \Re\left(I_0 e^{j\omega t}\right)$, $Q(t) = ...
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213 views

Can temperature be a complex number?

Is it possible for a temperature to be a complex number? I want to say "no" but I can't be so sure. If it is possible I would like to know of an example. I found an interesting article which treats ...
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1answer
112 views

What is the purpose of the imaginary portion of the wave function?

I recently watched this video. I'm trying to learn about the origin of the wave function and therefore understand its use in the Schrödinger Equation. However at the end of the video I understood up ...
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6answers
2k views

Minkowski Metric Signature

When I learned about the Minkowski Space and it's coordinates, it was explained such that the metric turns out to be $$ ds^{2} = -(cdx^{0})^{2} +(dx^{1})^{2} + (dx^{2})^{2} + (dx^{3})^{2} $$ where $ ...
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7answers
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Quaternions and 4-vectors

I recently realised that quaternions could be used to write intervals or norms of vectors in special relativity: $$(t,ix,jy,kz)^2 = t^2 + (ix)^2 + (jy)^2 + (kz)^2 = t^2 - x^2 - y^2 - z^2$$ Is it ...
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2answers
149 views

Why does the magnitude squared of the wave function give us the probability density? [duplicate]

My question doesn't go much beyond the title: Why does $$\left | \psi \left ( x,t \right ) \right |^{2}$$ give us the probability density of something appearing at a certain location? I understand ...
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2answers
106 views

Elementary question about endpoint singularities

In George Sterman's book "An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory", on pages 413-414, there is a description of the endpoint singularity. One begins with the function $$ I(w) ~=~ ...
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147 views

$su(1,1) \cong su(2)$?

The three generators of $su(2)$ satisfy the commutation relations $$ [J_0 , J_\pm] = J_\pm , \quad [J_+, J_- ] = +2J_0 .$$ The three generators of $su(1,1)$ satisfy the commutation relations $$ ...
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3answers
127 views

Why are complex fields in the Lagrangian?

I know that a complex field has twice the number of degrees of freedom of a real field, and that fields (in QFT) aren't observables so we don't really care if they are real. But why the need for ...
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1answer
83 views

Path integral measure Fourier transformation for case of real field

Let's have $$ Z[J] = \int D \varphi e^{iS[\varphi , J]}, $$ where $\varphi$ denotes real scalar field. Let's make Fourier transform, $$ \varphi (x) = \int e^{iqx}\varphi (q), \quad \varphi^{*} (q) = ...
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1answer
64 views

How to separate k into real and imaginary parts?

In $k^2 - \frac{\omega^2}{c_o^2} + (\tau_{\alpha} i \omega)^{\alpha} k^2 = 0$, $k$ is the wavenumber, $\omega$ is angular frequency, others are constants. How can I separate the wavenumber $k$ into ...
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3answers
63 views

Use of Imaginary Angles in Physics

I am studying higher algebra. I have learnt that as well as for reals, trigonometric functions can also be defined for complex numbers, by means of power series. Such as: ...
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1answer
60 views

Metal Refractive index

I'm working on Fresnel equation for calculation of reflection of a light (532 nm) on Iron. I've got a question: Is metals refractive index always a real number or it can be a complex number?
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1answer
66 views

QM: Why is there a minus sign on the Energy operator when using complex conjugate?

I understand how they get the first equation. But I have no idea why there is a minus sign on the second equation: This is from a derivation for the probability density current found here: ...
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2answers
191 views

Imaginary number for extinction coefficient in complex refractive index

In complex refractive index on a material, $n=n'+ ik$, the imaginary part $k$ is physical meaning, as it shows absorption in the material but it is an imaginary. How we measure an imaginary values in ...
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156 views

Why is imaginary time “outdated”? [closed]

I was looking at reviews for Sakurai's Quantum Mechanics textbook, and some mentioned it being outdated, specifically mentioning his use of imaginary time. Is this idea deliberately avoided in modern ...
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3answers
90 views

Can we define the zero potential at an imaginary point?

Consider a force field defined as $$\vec{F}(x) = \left(\frac{A}{x^2}-B\right)\hat{i}\space$$ where $A, B$ are positive constants. We want to get the potential energy function for this field. We can ...
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1answer
76 views

$SU(2)$ generators and creation annihilation operators

The algebraic method to find the irreducible representation of the $SU(2)$ group makes use of the operators: $$J_z\\J_+=\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}(J_x+iJ_y)\\J_-=\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}(J_x-iJ_y)$$ In the book ...
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2answers
69 views

Complex dimensional analysis

Does complex numbers have physical dimensions? Is it sensible to talk about the dimensional analysis of $Z$ where $Z$ is the impedance of a mechanical oscillatory system? Or is it the $|Z|$ which has ...
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2answers
60 views

Hermitian Metric and Geodesics

Why isn't general relativity developed with a Hermitian metric and a theory of complex valued paths and geodesics? The concept of arc length and geodesic suffers under a pseudo-Riemannian metric. My ...
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1answer
58 views

Variation over complex function in Ginzburg-Landau theory

When deriving the Ginzburg-Landau equations, we minimize the following free energy over the complex function $\psi$: $$F = \int dV \left \{\alpha |\psi|^2 + \frac{\beta}{2}|\psi|^4 + \frac{1}{2m^*} ...
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71 views

Physical Interpretation of the Residue

In my complex analysis course (taught by the physics department no less) we've obviously paid close attention to the residue for solving our problems, but there has been no attempt to try and attach ...
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2answers
140 views

Properties of Hodge Duality

So we know that Hodge duality works this way $$⋆(dx^i_1 \wedge ... \wedge dx^i_p)= \frac{1}{(n-p)!} \epsilon^{i_1..i_p}_{i_{p+1}..i_n} dx^{i_{p+1} } \wedge dx^{i_n}$$ where $p$ represents the $p$ in ...
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2k views

Variational Derivation of Schrodinger Equation

In reading Weinstock's Calculus of Variations, on pages 261 - 262 he explains how Schrodinger apparently first derived the Schrodinger equation from variational principles. Unfortunately I don't ...
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1answer
160 views

What is the advantage of using exponential function over trigonometric function in analyzing waves?

A.P.French in his book Vibrations and Waves writes: . . . Why should the exponential function be such an important contribution to the analysis of vibrations? The prime reason is the special ...
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1answer
124 views

Finding the Direction of Measurement Given the Spin State

I am currently trying to gain a fuller understanding of the meaning of various spin states and their relation to the direction of measurement by a Stern-Gerlach device. I came across two spin-${1 ...
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2answers
151 views

Difficulty evaluating a complex integral on Griffiths

This actually a question from Griffiths QM. (Q2.21) I have difficulty understanding integrals involving imaginary components. In this example, it looks like the first term (encircled in red) explodes ...
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1answer
219 views

Transmission + Reflection coefficients >1 For Potencial Barrier with Negative Complex Part Contradicts Paper

I am studying reflection and transmission coefficients for a barrier consisting of a a step potencial defined by: $$V(x):=\begin{cases}0&{\rm if}\,|x|>a/2 \\ V_0+iW_0 & {\rm ...
2
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2answers
229 views

Complex numbers in quantum mechanics and in special relativity

Is there a physical relation between the use of complex numbers for the wavefunction in (non-relativistic) quantum mechanics and in special relativity (as formulated in the setting of Minkowski ...
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7answers
2k views

Can one do the maths of physics without using $\sqrt{-1}$?

The use of imaginary and complex values comes up in many physics and engineering derivations. I have a question about that: Is the use of complex numbers simply to make the process of derivation ...
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1answer
235 views

Is imaginary time a fifth dimension? [duplicate]

I've read that by introducing the concept of imaginary time, the dimension of time can be treated like a spatial dimension mathematically. Assuming, without imaginary time, one considers the universe ...
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1answer
128 views

Complex comjugate of Schrodinger equation: paradox in matrix form?

We can take the complex conjugate of schrodinger equation, and obtain $$ -\frac{\hbar^2 }{2m}\frac{\partial^2\psi}{\partial x^2} + V(x)\psi = i \hbar \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial t} $$ $$ ...
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3answers
1k views

Complex numbers in optics

I have recently studied optics. But I feel having missed something important: how can amplitudes of light waves be complex numbers?
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11answers
10k views

About the complex nature of the wave function?

1. Why is the wave function complex? I've collected some layman explanations but they are incomplete and unsatisfactory. However in the book by Merzbacher in the initial few pages he provides an ...
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0answers
298 views

What is the physical meaning of complex eigenvalues?

I understand the mathematical origin of complex eigenvalues, and that complex eigenvalues come in pairs. But what is the meaning of the imaginary part? In particular I refer to an acoustic problem ...
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4answers
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Confused over complex representation of the wave

My quantum mechanics textbook says that the following is a representation of a wave traveling in the +$x$ direction:$$\Psi(x,t)=Ae^{i\left(kx-\omega t\right)}\tag1$$ I'm having trouble visualizing ...
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86 views

A question over the reality of $\sin x$

Harmonic functions are in widespread use in physical descriptions of natural real phenomena. I am just wondering therefore how we can define $\sin(x)$ to be part of a real physical quantity (with ...
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3answers
168 views

Root of $i$, which one to take?

The propagator of a free particle in 1d is $$ K(x_b, t_b; x_a, t_a ) = \sqrt{\frac{m}{2\pi i \hbar (t_b-t_a)}} \exp \left [ \frac{i m (x_b-x_a)^2}{2 \hbar (t_b-t_a)} \quad \right ] .$$ It looks ...
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1answer
82 views

Why is the value of the action integral in general relativity the same on all regions that are homologous?

In their famous paper Action integrals and partition functions in quantum gravity, Gibbons and Hawking argue that in order to avoid the singularity of a Schwarzschild black hole you can complexify ...