Applies also to pre-Hilbert spaces, rigged Hilbert spaces, and spaces with negative norm or zero-norm states.

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785 views

In what sense is the path integral an independent formulation of Quantum Mechanics/Field Theory?

We are all familiar with the version of Quantum Mechanics based on state space, operators, Schrodinger equation etc. This allows us to successfully compute relevant physical quantities such as ...
11
votes
1answer
367 views

Conceptual difficulty in understanding Continuous Vector Space

I have an extremely ridiculous doubt that has been bothering me, since I started learning quantum mechanics. If we consider the finite dimensional vector space for the spin$\frac{1}{2}$ particles, ...
11
votes
4answers
825 views

Why are the inner products of the eigenfunctions of an operator with a discrete eigenvalue spectrum guaranteed to exist?

I was reading through a textbook, and the statement was made that the inner products are guaranteed to exist if the eigenvalue spectrum of the operator is discrete. I have come across no support for ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Quantum Joke (not a real joke, not a riddle)

Supposing I want to make a quantum joke, like writing this on a coffee machine: $$| \text{Status}\rangle = \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\ \big( | \text{Working}\rangle \color{red}{\pm} | \text{Down}\rangle \...
11
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5answers
280 views

How is the ground state chosen in a spontaneous symmetry breaking process?

This question is about how the ground state is chosen in a spontaneous symmetry breaking process. Say we have a Mexican Hat potential (e.g. the one for the Higgs field) and are sitting at the unstable ...
11
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2answers
468 views

How to describe time evolution in relativistic QFT?

I must confess that I'm still confused about the question of time evolution in relativistic quantum field theory (RQFT). From symmetry arguments, from the representation of the Poincare group through ...
10
votes
1answer
924 views

Boosts are non-unitary!

The boost transformations are not unitary unlike rotations, the boost generators are not Hermitian. When this induces transformations in the Hilbert space, will those transformation be unitary? I ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

Does an electron move from one excitation state to another, or jump?

I'm wondering, when an electron changes state, does it move from one state to another over some (very small) time period? Or does it change from one state to another in no time? If the former, what ...
10
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2answers
640 views

Non-separable solutions of the Schroedinger equation

I'm studying an undergraduate Quantum Mechanics course and I have some doubts about the solution of the Schroedinger equation by the separation of variables method. If we suppose that the solutions ...
10
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4answers
323 views

Basis independence in Quantum Mechanics

The idea that the state of a system does not depend on the basis that we choose to represent it in, has always puzzled me. Physically I can imagine that the basis ought to just yield an equivalent ...
10
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1answer
235 views

Time derivative of the state vector as expressed in abstract Hilbert space vs. as a wavefunction

The Schrodinger equation in Hilbert space is expressed as : $$\frac{\partial}{\partial t} \psi(t) = \frac{-i}{\hbar}H\psi(t). $$ Here $\frac{\partial}{\partial t} \psi(t) \equiv \psi'(t) \equiv\lim \...
9
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4answers
5k views

Difficulties with bra-ket notation

I have started to study quantum mechanics. I know linear algebra,functional analysis, calculus, and so on, but at this moment I have a problem in Dirac bra-ket formalism. Namely, I have problem with "...
9
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2answers
671 views

Are all scattering states un-normalizable?

I am an undergraduate studying quantum physics with the book of Griffiths. in 1-D problems, it said a free particle has un-normalizable states but normalizable states can be obtained by sum up the ...
9
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2answers
301 views

What is meant by the term “completeness relation”

From my humble (physicist) mathematics training, I have a vague notion of what a Hilbert space actually is mathematically, i.e. an inner product space that is complete, with completeness in this sense ...
9
votes
2answers
377 views

Motivation to introduce von Neumann algebras in addition to $C^*$algebras?

Observables are self-adjoint elements of a $C^*$algebra. As such, this structure seems sufficient to describe physics. A theorem by Gelfand and Naimark says that a $C^*$algebra can always be ...
9
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1answer
1k views

The vacuum in quantum field theories: what is it?

In Section 10.1 of his textbook Quantum Field Theory for Mathematicians, Ticciati writes Assuming that the background field or classical source $j(x)$ is zero at space-time infinity, the presence ...
9
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3answers
1k views

What is a basis for the Hilbert space of a 1-D scattering state?

Suppose I have a massive particle in non-relativistic quantum mechanics. Its wavefunction can be written in the position basis as $$\vert \Psi \rangle = \Psi_x(x,t)$$ or in the momentum basis as $$...
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2answers
985 views

Nonseparable Hilbert space

What kind of things can go wrong if we try to do quantum mechanics on a nonseparable Hilbert space? I have heard that usual mathematical manipulations that we take for granted will no longer hold. ...
8
votes
2answers
777 views

Position operator in QFT

My Professor in QFT did a move which I cannot follow: Given the state $$\hat\phi|0\rangle = \int \frac{d^3p}{(2\pi)^3 2 E_p} a^\dagger_p e^{- i p_\mu x^\mu}|0\rangle,$$ he wanted to show that this ...
8
votes
2answers
288 views

Precise meaning of composition of ket and bra, e.g. $|\psi\rangle\langle\psi|$

I'm currently studying density matrices, and have been frequently coming across the construction $$|\psi\rangle\langle\psi| \,.$$ What is the formal meaning of this composition? I understand $\...
8
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2answers
533 views

Infinite dimensional vector spaces vs. the dual space

I just happened across this over on Math Overflow. It references the following theorem from linear algebra: A vector space has the same dimension as its dual if and only if it is finite ...
8
votes
2answers
429 views

Quantum states as rays as opposed to vectors

I recently read that a quantum state is actually defined by a ray and not a vector. That is it is possible to multiply a state $\psi$ by any complex number $c\in \mathbb{C}$ and you won't be changing ...
8
votes
3answers
331 views

What are the physical dimensions (units) of the elements in a Hilbert space of a QM system?

In QM, the state vector $|\psi\rangle$ seem to have various dimensions under different representations: (only in space of continuous dimension) $$\langle x|\psi\rangle = [\frac{1}{\sqrt{Length}}]$$ $$...
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1answer
6k views

Differences between pure/mixed/entangled/separable/superposed states

I am currently trying to establish a clear picture of pure/mixed/entangled/separable/superposed states. In the following I will always assume a basis of $|1\rangle$ and $|0\rangle$ for my quantum ...
8
votes
2answers
287 views

Deriving the expectation of $[\hat X,\hat H]$

For a free particle of mass $m$, with Hamiltonian $$\hat{H} = \frac {\hat{P}^2} {2m},$$ where $$\hat{P} = -i \hbar \frac{\partial} {\partial x}.$$ The commutative relation is given by $$[\hat{X}, \...
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5answers
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The role of representation theory in QM/QFT?

I need help understanding the role of representation theory in QM/QFT. My understanding of representation theory in this context is as follows: there are physical symmetries of the system we are ...
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2answers
333 views

Ambiguity in number of basis vectors [duplicate]

The dimension of the Hilbert space is determined by the number of independent basis vectors. There is a infinite discrete energy eigenbasis $\{|n\rangle\}$ in the problem of particle in a box which ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are eigenfunctions which correspond to discrete/continuous eigenvalue spectra guaranteed to be normalizable/non-normalizable?

These facts are taken for granted in a QM text I read. The purportedly guaranteed non-normalizability of eigenfunctions which correspond to a continuous eigenvalue spectrum is only partly justified by ...
8
votes
3answers
708 views

A confusion about base states of a quantum system

I have been told that the eigenkets of a operator of a space form a basis for the state of the quantum system. The eigenbasis obtained from the position operator $\textbf{x}$ is the (continuously) ...
8
votes
2answers
375 views

The Origins of the Second Quantization

I've been studying quantum theory for a while now and have a number of closely related questions that are not giving me any peace. I am not sure if such a long format is appropriate here, but I'd like ...
8
votes
2answers
456 views

How to guarantee square integrable solutions to time-independent Schrödinger's equation?

Given the time-independent Schrödinger’s equation in one dimension $$H\psi = E\psi$$ what restrictions can we place on V(x) (inside the hamiltonian) and E to guarantee that the solutions won't have ...
7
votes
5answers
3k views

Differences between probability density and expectation value of position

The expression $\int | \Psi\left(x\right)|^2dx$ gives the probability of finding a particle at a given position. If wave function gives the probabilities of positions, why do we calculate "...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

How does the momentum operator act on state kets?

I have been going through some problems in Sakurai's Modern QM and at one point have to calculate $\langle \alpha|\hat{p}|\alpha\rangle$ where all we know about the state $|\alpha\rangle$ is that $\...
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3answers
3k views

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
2answers
222 views

What is $\langle \phi | H | \psi \rangle$ in QM?

I know that $\langle \phi | \psi \rangle$ is the probability of going from the $\psi$-state to the $\phi$-state, and that $\langle \phi | H | \phi \rangle$ is the expectation value of the energy for ...
7
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3answers
5k views

How is a bound state defined in quantum mechanics?

How is a bound state defined in quantum mechanics for states which are not eigenstates of the Hamiltonian i.e. which do not have definite energies? Can a superposition state like $$\psi(x,t)=\frac{1}{\...
7
votes
2answers
905 views

Does the wave function always asymptotically approach zero?

I'm new to quantum physics (and to this site), so please bear with me. I know that quantum mechanics allows particles to appear in regions that are classically forbidden; for example, an electron ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is normal ordering a valid operation?

Why is normal ordering even a valid operation in the first place? I mean it can give us some nice results, but why can we do the ordering for the operators like that? Is its definition motivated by ...
7
votes
3answers
786 views

Mathematical understanding of Quantum Mechanics

Assuming that $\phi(r) = F (\psi(r))$ for some operator $F$ in Quantum Mechanics. Then, in our lecture today, we said that $$\phi(r) = \langle r|F |\psi\rangle = \int_{\mathbb{R}} \langle r |F| r' \...
7
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2answers
274 views

Does the Hermitian operator $H=-\frac{d^2}{dx^2}$ have imaginary eigenvalues?

In quantum mechanics, Hermitian operators play a very important role because they possess real eigenvalues. Considering $-\frac{d^2}{dx^2}$, it is a Hermitian operator (Actually it's the simplest ...
7
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2answers
635 views

Scattering states of Hydrogen atom in non-relativistic perturbation theory

In doing second order time-independent perturbation theory in non-relativistic quantum mechanics one has to calculate the overlap between states $$E^{(2)}_n ~=~ \sum_{m \neq n}\frac{|\langle m | H' |...
7
votes
3answers
222 views

What do the wave functions associated to the Fock states of each mode of a bound state system mean?

$\renewcommand{\ket}[1]{\left \lvert #1 \right \rangle}$ Consider a string of length $L$ under tension and clamped on each end. This system is described by the wave equation and has a set of modes. ...
7
votes
3answers
656 views

Why is $\theta \over 2$ used for a Bloch sphere instead of $\theta$?

I'm a beginner in studying quantum info, and I'm a little confused about the representation of a qubit with a Bloch Sphere. Wikipedia says that we can use $$\lvert\Psi\rangle=\cos\frac{\theta}{2} \...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Implications of unbounded operators in quantum mechanics

Quantum mechanical observables of a system are represented by self - adjoint operators in a separable complex Hilbert space $\mathcal{H}$. Now I understand a lot of operators ...
7
votes
1answer
294 views

Continuity domain for momentum operator

I know this is essentially a mathematic question, but I received no answer on math SE. Moreover it has a direct application in physics, so I thought to ask this here too. The momentum operator in one ...
7
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2answers
645 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\ b_n\...
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2answers
205 views

Under what assumptions can we split a Hilbert space into subspaces?

I was thinking about an apparently simple question about quantum mechanics, if I am looking at a quantum system described by a Hilbert space $\cal{H}$ under what hypothesis can I define A and B as ...
7
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114 views

Properties of spectrum of a self-adjoint operator on a separable Hilbert space

So, if I understand it correctly, the spectrum of a self-adjoint operator on a Hilbert space $H$ consists of two parts: $ \newcommand{\ket}[1]{\,\lvert{#1}\rangle} \newcommand{\op}[1]{\hat{#1}} $ ...
7
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2answers
332 views

Interpreting some domain issues of (potential) momentum operators

In the context of mathematical quantum mechanics, a well known no-go theorem known as Hellinger-Töplitz tells us that an unbounded, symmetric operator cannot be defined everywhere on the Hilbert space ...
7
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2answers
361 views

Is it possible that we have a physical state which is a mixture of discrete eigenstates and continuous ones?

For a system has both continuous and discrete spectrum, is it possible that a physical states is something like: $$\psi(x)=\sum_{n=n_1}^{n=n2}c_n\psi_n(x)+\int_{E_0-\Delta_E}^{E_0+\Delta_E}\psi_E(x)\...