A quantum observable is a measurable operator whose corresponding property of the state can be determined by some sequence of physical operations ("observation"), such as submitting the system to various electromagnetic fields and eventually reading a value. In systems governed by classical ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms

32
votes
5answers
3k views

Is mass an observable in Quantum Mechanics?

One of the postulates of QM mechanics is that any observable is described mathematically by a hermitian linear operator. I suppose that an observable means a quantity that can be measured. The mass ...
24
votes
3answers
4k views

How does non-commutativity lead to uncertainty?

I read that the non-commutativity of the quantum operators leads to the uncertainty principle. What I don't understand is how both things hang together. Is it that when you measure one thing first ...
22
votes
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 ...
21
votes
4answers
552 views

Is every quantum measurement reducible to measurements of position and time?

I am currently studying Path Integrals and was unable to resolve the following problem. In the famous book Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals, written by Feynman and Hibbs, it says (at the beginning ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

Intuitive meaning of Hilbert Space formalism

I am totally confused about the Hilbert Space formalism of Quantum Mechanics. Can somebody please elaborate on the following points: The observables are given by self-adjoint operators on the ...
20
votes
2answers
4k views

Time as a Hermitian operator in QM?

In non-relativistic QM, on one hand we have the following relations: $$\langle x | P | \psi \rangle ~=~ -i \hbar \frac{\partial}{\partial x} \psi(x),$$ $$\langle p | X | \psi \rangle ~=~ i \hbar \...
19
votes
7answers
26k 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 (...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

In what sense is a scalar field observable in QFT?

Consider a QFT consisting of a single, hermitian scalar field $\Phi$ on spacetime (say $\mathbb R^{3,1}$ for simplicity). At each point $x$ in spacetime, $\Phi(x)$ is an observable in the sense that ...
15
votes
7answers
1k views

Why is a Hermitian operator a “quantum random variable”?

To me, as a stupid mathematician, a random variable is a measurable function from some probability space $(\Omega, \sigma, \mu)$ to $(\Bbb{R}, B(\Bbb{R}))$. This makes sense. You have outcomes, events,...
13
votes
3answers
5k views

Why do we use Hermitian operators in QM?

Position, momentum, energy and other observables yield real-valued measurements. The Hilbert-space formalism accounts for this physical fact by associating observables with Hermitian ('self-adjoint') ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Really how can an observable quantity be equal to an operator?

A wave-function can be written as $$\Psi = Ae^{-i(Et - px)/\hbar}$$ where $E$ & $p$ are the energy & momentum of the particle. Now, differentiating $\Psi$ w.r.t. $x$ and $t$ respectively, we ...
11
votes
3answers
551 views

Is it possible to define a “it went through two slits” observable?

This concerns the famous two-slit experiment. Electrons or photons or your favorite particle, doesn't matter. As we all know, the attempt to detect which slit the quanta pass through leads to loss ...
11
votes
2answers
506 views

Eigenstate of field operator in QFT

Why don't people discuss the eigenstate of the field operator? For example, the real scalar field the field operator is Hermitian, so its eigenstate is an observable quantity.
10
votes
1answer
1k views

“An operator is hermitian”. Implications?

Alastair Rae states that there are 4 postulates of Quantum Mechanics in his text on the subject matter. The first part of his second postulate can be stated as: Every dynamical variable may be ...
9
votes
2answers
312 views

Observables with transcendental eigenvalues

Are there any "natural" physical observables which have non-empty point spectrum which consists of numbers which are not algebraic numbers?
8
votes
5answers
400 views

Why does the measurement of some observable $A$, the measured value is always an eigenvalue of the operator?

Explain why when we make a measurement of some observable $A$ in QM, the measured value is always an eigenvalue of the operator $A$.
7
votes
2answers
220 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
votes
2answers
1k views

Eigenvalues of a quantum field?

Fields in classical mechanics are observables. For example, I can measure the value of the electric field at some (x,t). In quantum field theory, the classical field is promoted to an operator-valued ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Is the expectation value always an eigenvalue?

Must the expectation value of an observable always be equal to an eigenvalue of the corresponding operator? I already know that 0 is not an eigenvalue, but are there any other examples?
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Particle in a 1-D box and the correspondence principle

Consider the particle in a 1-d box, we know very well the solutions of it. I'd like to see how the correspondence principle will work out in this case, if we consider position probability density ...
7
votes
8answers
3k views

What exactly is the 'observer' in physics and/or quantum mechanics? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: nature of an observer For instance, in the double slit experiment, what is exactly defined as an observer? I remember from somewhere, light is also an observer?
6
votes
3answers
7k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
835 views

Square of the Pauli matrices and the identity matrix

The square of any of the three Pauli Spin matrices is equal to the identity. Is there any physical meaning to this? Would you expect it? Maybe in the context of the $SU(2)$ group?
6
votes
3answers
416 views

Some questions on observables in QM

1-In QM every observable is described mathematically by a linear Hermitian operator. Does that mean every Hermitian linear operator can represent an observable? 2-What are the criteria to say whether ...
6
votes
2answers
145 views

Why hermitian, after all? [duplicate]

This question is going to look a lot like a duplicate, but I've read dozens of related posts and they don't touch the subject. Here we go. Why are observables represented by hermitian operators? ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

What does observation mean in two-slit electron diffraction experiment? [duplicate]

My question is clear, that I ask: What do we mean by "observation" in 2-slit experiment for electrons (or any other wave-particle)? You know, we say that :"if we observe the electron, it shows a ...
6
votes
4answers
583 views

Why is Spin Less Classical than Position?

It is often repeated that "the spin observable is purely quantum and has no classical counterpart". What is actually meant by that? I see no principle difference between the set of spin observables ...
6
votes
2answers
234 views

Is there a time operator in quantum mechanics?

The question in the title has been asked many times on this site before, of course. Here's what I found: Time as a Hermitian operator in QM? in 2011. Answer states time is a parameter. Is there an ...
6
votes
2answers
145 views

What does it mean to observe? [duplicate]

This is a layman's question. The only thing I know about quantum physics is from casual reading and documentaries. I can imagine electrons being probabilistic waves. Their position is an infinite ...
6
votes
0answers
61 views

Motivating Irreducibility of Hilbert Space for Quantization Axioms

In the context of geometric quantization, we usually look for a map from the Poisson algebra of classical observables to the algebra of quantum observables (or rather, a sub-algebra of the classical ...
5
votes
4answers
399 views

Is commutation relation an equivalence relation?

I'm now learning quantum mechanics with Liboff. In the book it deals with "a compete set of mutually compatible observables" in order to make a state maximally informative. How can one find such set? ...
5
votes
3answers
455 views

Reason for Uncertainty principle

$$\Delta x \Delta p_x \geq \frac{\hbar}{2} $$ I understand what does Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states i.e. it's definition and it has been proven experimentally. But, can anyone please ...
5
votes
1answer
421 views

Is color charge a quantum mechanical observable?

If I had 2 pions that were identical, except one was comprised of a red and anti-red, and the other was comprised of a green and anti-green, would I be able to perform an experiment that distinguishes ...
5
votes
2answers
309 views

Inexact measurement and wavefunction collapse

As is usually said, measurement of an observable $q$ leads to collapse of wavefunction to an eigenstate of the corresponding operator $\hat q$. That is, now the wavefunction in $q$ representation is $\...
5
votes
5answers
855 views

Is the wave function objective or subjective?

Here is a question I am curious about. Is the wave function objective or subjective, or is such a question meaningless? Conventionally, subjectivity is as follows: if a quantity is subjective then ...
5
votes
2answers
439 views

Why don't non-Hermitian operators with all real-eigenvalues correspond to observables? [duplicate]

Suppose you could construct an operator that was non-Hermitian but had all real eigenvalues or could at least be restricted in a way to create only real eigenvalues, why would this operator not ...
5
votes
1answer
172 views

Our choice of basis surely cannot effect possible outcomes of a measurement?

Common sense says that, of course, the outcome of a measurement on a quantum system cannot be affected by what base we choose to represent it in. However, while studying QM text, it seems like they ...
5
votes
3answers
42 views

Constructing a CP map with some decaying property

Given some observable $\mathcal O \in \mathcal H$ it is simple to construct a CP (completely positive) map $\Phi:\mathcal{H}\mapsto \mathcal{H}$ that conserves this quantity. All one has to observe is ...
5
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
81 views

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle derivation in a ring [duplicate]

The standard derivation But now suppose the space is a ring of length $L$, it seems the derivation could work out exactly the same and we get $$\Delta p \Delta x \geq \hbar/2.$$ But since $\Delta x$ ...
5
votes
2answers
170 views

Basic Interpretation of Compostion of Observables and their Measurement

Given two (or more) observables $A, B$ which commute one can construct a third observable $C= A \circ B$. If $\psi$ is a common eigenvector of $A, B$ with eigenvalues $\lambda_1, \lambda_2$ then it is ...
5
votes
1answer
380 views

Does spontanous symmetry breaking affect Noethers theorem?

Does spontanous symmetry breaking affect the existence of a conserved charge? And how does depend on whether we look at a classical or a quantum field theory (e.g. the weak interacting theory)? (...
4
votes
4answers
190 views

How to determine the observables rigorously?

In Quantum Mechanics, as I know, if a system is described by a Hilbert space $\mathcal{H}$, each physical quantity is associated with some hermitian operator $A : U\subset \mathcal{H}\to \mathcal{H}$ ...
4
votes
2answers
329 views

Why does $i ( LK-KL )$ represent a real quantity?

According to my textbook, it says that $i( LK-KL )$ represents a real quantity when $K$ and $L$ represent a real quantity. $K$ and $L$ are matrices. It says that this is because of basic rules. ...
4
votes
5answers
666 views

Eigenvalue Postulate and Experiment Outcomes in QM

In Nielsen and Chuang's text on Quantum Information and Computation, the measurement postulate is stated by using a collection of measurement operators and the outcomes are the indices of the ...
4
votes
2answers
276 views

Uniqueness of eigenvector representation in a complete set of compatible observables [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Uniqueness of eigenvector representation in a complete set of compatible observables Sakurai states that if we have a complete, maximal set of compatible observables, say A,...
4
votes
2answers
131 views

Interpretation of $\langle \phi | A | \psi \rangle$ [duplicate]

If the current state of some quantum system is $| \psi \rangle$, what is the physical interpretation of $$ \langle \phi | A | \psi \rangle $$ where $|\phi\rangle$ is some other -maybe the same- ...
4
votes
2answers
354 views

proof for $\langle q| p \rangle = e^{ipq}$

What would be the proof for $\langle q| p \rangle = e^{ipq}$? Is it derived from canonical commutation relation? ($|q \rangle $ represents the position eigenstate, while $|p \rangle$ represents the ...
4
votes
1answer
386 views

The difference between projection operators and field operators in QFT?

Is there a good reference for the distinction between projection operators in QFT, with an eigenvalue spectrum of $\{1,0\}$, representing yes/no measurements, the prototype of which is the Vacuum ...
4
votes
3answers
309 views

Are the authors saying that the observer effect plays no role in Bohr's thought experiment of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle?

Here is an excerpt from Eisberg & Resnick's Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles. Here is introducing Bohr's though experiment to establish a physical origin for the ...