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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33
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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 ...
21
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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?
22
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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 ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

What does the complex electric field show?

We have a complex electric field. Is there any definition for absolute and imaginary part of a complex electric field? What do they stand for?
23
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2answers
1k views

Why treat complex scalar field and its complex conjugate as two different fields?

I am new to QFT, so I may have some of the terminology incorrect. Many QFT books provide an example of deriving equations of motion for various free theories. One example is for a complex scalar ...
10
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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 $ ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

Why are Only Real Things Measurable?

Why can't we measure imaginary numbers? I mean, we can take the projection of a complex wave to be the "viewable" part, so why are imaginary numbers given this immeasurable descriptor? Namely with ...
7
votes
3answers
911 views

Born's Rule, What is the Reason? [duplicate]

As far as I've read online, there isn't a good explanation for the Born Rule. Is this the case? Why does taking the square of the wave function give you the Probability? Naturally it removes negatives ...
11
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1answer
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

What is imaginary time? [duplicate]

I am not professional physicist; but I am curious about Stephen Hawking's "imaginary time". It would be better to elaborate exactly what it is. I am not confused because of the word "imaginary" but I ...
7
votes
4answers
440 views

Complex integration by shifting the contour

In section 12.11 of Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics, he evaluates an integral involved in the Green function solution to the 4-potential wave equation. Here it is: $$\int_{-\infty}^\infty dk_0 ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Solving the time independent Schrodinger equation: Does a complex solution make sense?

In my notes, I have the Time Independent Schrodinger equation for a free particle $$\frac{\partial^2 \psi}{\partial x^2}+\frac{p^2}{\hbar^2}\psi=0\tag1$$ The solution to this is given, in my notes, ...
9
votes
6answers
889 views

What is Quantization?

In classical mechanics you construct an action (involving a Lagrangian in arbitrary generalized coordinates, a Hamiltonian in canonical coordinates [to make your EOM more "convenient & ...
5
votes
2answers
180 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
461 views

What is the rationale behind representing a state function by a complex valued function in QM?

What is the rationale behind representing a state function of an electron with a complex valued function $\Psi$. If only the probabilistic argument was required then why not represent it with just a ...
6
votes
3answers
241 views

Special relativity and imaginary coefficient of the time coordinate

I read somewhere that part of Minkowski's inspiration for his formulation of Minkowski space was Poincare's observation that time could be understood as a fourth spatial dimension with an imaginary ...
4
votes
2answers
891 views

Finding Stagnation Points from the complex potential

I am trying to find the stagnation point of a fluid flow from a complex potential. The complex potential is given by $$\Omega(z) = Uz + \cfrac{m}{2\pi}\ln z.$$ From this I found the streamfunction to ...
0
votes
2answers
138 views

Quantum Mechanical States

What can be the precise answer to the question that Quantum states are complex and infinite dimensional. Why is this so? Is it because they belong to the complex Hilbert space? Even if they ...
3
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1answer
4k views

What does $\Psi^*$ mean in Schrodinger's formulation of Quantum Mechanics?

I am not a physics student. In one of my courses, some fundamental concepts of Quantum mechanics were needed, so I was going through them when I stumbled upon this. It says $$\text{probability} = ...
7
votes
3answers
692 views

Applications of analytic continuation to physics

I posted this on math.SE, but didn't get much response. It might fit better on this site. Holomorphic functions have the property that they can be uniquely analytically continued to (almost) the ...
4
votes
6answers
2k views

Is there a direct physical interpretation for the complex wavefunction?

The Schrodinger equation in non-relativistic quantum mechanics yields the time-evolution of the so-called wavefunction corresponding to the system concerned under the action of the associated ...
5
votes
3answers
861 views

What does the Schrodinger Equation really mean?

I understand that the Schrodinger equation is actually a principle that cannot be proven. But can someone give a plausible foundation for it and give it some physical meaning/interpretation. I guess ...
0
votes
4answers
511 views

Why complex functions for explaining wave particle duality?

I have this very bad habit of going to the scratch, discarding all the developments of a theory and worldly knowledge, and ask some fundamental (mostly stupid and naive, as some may say) questions as ...
12
votes
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
528 views

Is quantum tunneling related to imaginary time?

I was studying for my exam and looking at the chapter which talks about Potential-energy graphs. Let's take this as an example: My book states that: "If the object is in $B$ and has a total energy ...
8
votes
2answers
495 views

Is the step of analytic continuation unavoidable or can you model around it?

One sometimes considers the analytic continuation of certain quantities in physics and take them seriously. More so than the direct or actual values, actually. For example if you use the procedure ...
4
votes
2answers
288 views

QFT Hilbert spaces over other rings than the complex numbers $\mathbb{C}$

I would like some help evaluating a physics theory recently proposed by a physics professor at the College of Dupage. I think the theory is utterly wrong, for very simple reasons. If an amateur ...
9
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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?
4
votes
4answers
5k views

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 ...
2
votes
0answers
307 views

Probability and probability amplitude [duplicate]

What made scientists believe that we should calculate probability $P$ as the $P = \left|\psi\right|^2$ in quantum mechanics? Was it the double slit experiment? How? Is there anywhere in the ...
1
vote
4answers
775 views

Complex Conjugate of Wave Function

I've been reading through Griffiths QM book, and the only thing bugging me is they never fully described what $\Psi^* $ should be for any given function. I know it's the complex conjugate at the same ...
0
votes
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 ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

What does imaginary number maps to physically?

I am taking undergraduate quantum mechanics currently, and the concept of an imaginary number had always troubled me. I always feel that complex numbers are more of a mathematical convenience, but ...
5
votes
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
148 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
331 views

Usage of Schrödinger equation vs Madelung equations

It is well known that Madelung formulation is alternative to the Schrödinger Formulation, cf. this previous Madelung transformation Phys.SE post. I wanted to know what makes Schrödinger's formulation ...
2
votes
2answers
439 views

In classical mechanics, are complex numbers unphysical? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Physics math without $\sqrt{-1}$ When I produce a complex final solution to a problem that began without complex coefficients at all, I have so far (with my limited ...
0
votes
2answers
70 views

Calculating the Probability Current of a Travelling Wave

Calculate the probability current density vector $\vec{j}$ for the wave function : $$\psi = Ae^{-i(wt-kx)}.$$ From my very poor and beginner's understanding of probability density current it is : ...