In physics, an operator is almost always either a square matrix or a linear mapping from one space of functions (often on $\mathbb{R}^N$ or $\mathbb{C}^N$) to the same or other like space of functions. Operators serve as *observables* and as *time evolution operators* in Quantum Mechanics. This tag ...

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Physical interpretation of different selfadjoint extensions

Given a symmetric (densely defined) operator in a Hilbert space, there might be quite a lot of selfadjoint extensions to it. This might be the case for a Schrödinger operator with a "bad" potential. ...
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686 views

A “Hermitian” operator with imaginary eigenvalues

Let $${\bf H}=\hat{x}^3\hat{p}+\hat{p}\hat{x}^3$$ where $\hat{p}=-id/dx$. Clearly ${\bf H}^{\dagger}={\bf H}$, because ${\bf H}={\bf T} + {\bf T}^{\dagger}$, where ${\bf T}=\hat{x}^3\hat{p}$. In this ...
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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 ...
14
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2answers
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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 ...
14
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1answer
435 views

Discreteness of set of energy eigenvalues

Given some potential $V$, we have the eigenvalue problem $$ -\frac{\hbar^2}{2m}\Delta \psi + V\psi = E\psi $$ with the boundary condition $$ \lim_{|x|\rightarrow \infty} \psi(x) = 0 $$ If we ...
14
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603 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 ...
13
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2answers
1k views

Applications of the Spectral Theorem to Quantum Mechanics

I'm currently learning some basic functional analysis. Yesterday I arrived at the spectral theorem of self-adjoint operators. I've heard that this theorem has lots of applications in Quantum ...
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813 views

Energy is actually the momentum in the direction of time?

By comparatively examining the operators a student concludes that `Energy is actually the momentum in the direction of time.' Is this student right? Could he be wrong?
11
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3answers
1k views

How to tackle 'dot' product for spin matrices

I read a textbook today on quantum mechanics regarding the Pauli spin matrices for two particles, it gives the Hamiltonian as $$ H = \alpha[\sigma_z^1 + \sigma_z^2] + ...
11
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2answers
2k views

Meaning of the anti-commutator term in the uncertainty principle

What is the meaning, mathematical or physical, of the anti-commutator term? $\langle ( \Delta A )^{2} \rangle \langle ( \Delta B )^{2} \rangle \geq \dfrac{1}{4} \vert \langle [ A,B ] \rangle \vert^{2} ...
11
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880 views

Why do we use operators in quantum mechanics?

In classical mechanics, physical quantities, such as, e.g. the coordinates of position, velocity, momentum, energy, etc, are real numbers, but in quantum mechanics they become operators. Why is this ...
11
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1answer
99 views

Metric interpretation of self-adjoint extensions?

I am wondering if beyond physical interpretation, the one dimensional contact interactions (self-adjoint extensions of the the free Hamiltonian when defined everywhere except at the origin) have a ...
10
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5answers
725 views

What exactly is $\hat{\psi}^\dagger(x)$? An operator or a function?

I've recently read Cohen-Tannoudji on quantum mechanics to try to better understand Dirac notation. A homework problem is giving me some trouble though. I'm unsure if I've learned enough yet to ...
9
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2answers
175 views

The formal solution of the Schrodinger equation

Let's have Schrodinger equation (or some equation in Schrodinger form) $$ \tag 1 i \partial_{0} \Psi ~=~ \hat{H} \Psi . $$ One likes to write that it has formal solution $$ \tag 2 \Psi (t) ~=~ ...
9
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4answers
413 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 ...
9
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2answers
449 views

Does every hermitian operator represent a measurable quantity?

In Quantum mechanics, observables are represented by hermitian operator. But does every hermitian operator represent a observable? If not , how do we know that whether a hermitian operator represent ...
8
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5answers
9k 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 ...
8
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5answers
310 views

How to get the position operator in the momentum representation from knowing the momentum operator in the position representation?

I know that $$\tag{1}\hat{p}~=~-i\hbar \frac{\partial}{\partial x}~.$$ How can I get $$\tag{2}\hat{x}~=~i\hbar \frac{\partial}{\partial p}~?$$ I think this simple and I'm just over thinking it, ...
8
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457 views

How are anyons possible?

If $|ψ\rangle$ is the state of a system of two indistinguishable particles, then we have an exchange operator P which switches the states of the two particles. Since the two particles are ...
8
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1answer
588 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 ...
8
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2answers
540 views

Regularisation of infinite-dimensional determinants

Can a regularisation of the determinant be used to find the eigenvalues of the Hamiltonian in the normal infinite dimensional setting of QM? Edit: I failed to make myself clear. In finite ...
8
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0answers
97 views

Mathematical motivation of OPE?

In Peskin & Schroeder (and also Cheng which I have skimmed through) they motivate the Operator Product Expansion with a lot of words. Is there any way to motivate it mathematically, e.g. Taylor ...
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3answers
2k 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 ...
7
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2answers
531 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 ...
7
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1answer
128 views

Self-adjoint and unbounded operators in QM

An operator $A$ is said to be self-adjoint if $(\chi,A\psi)=(A\chi,\psi)$ for $\psi, \chi \in D_A$ and $D_A=D_{A^\dagger}$. But for the free particle momentum operator $\hat{p}$ these inner products ...
7
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1answer
311 views

Operator Ordering Ambiguities

I have been told that $$[\hat x^2,\hat p^2]=2i\hbar (\hat x\hat p+\hat p\hat x)$$ illustrates operator ordering ambiguity. What does that mean? I tried googling but to no avail.
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1answer
200 views

String theory - OPE and primary operators

First, a disclaimer: I am new to Physics SE, and I am primarily a mathematician, not a physicist. I apologise in advance for the possibly poor quality of the question, any and thank you for your ...
7
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1answer
121 views

Representation on Hilbert space of the product of two symmetry transformations

We know by Wigner's theorem that the representation of a symmetry transformation on the Hilbert space is either unitary and linear, or anti-unitary and anti-linear. Let $T$ and $S$ be two symmetry ...
7
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2answers
614 views

Bounded and Unbounded (Scattering) States in Quantum Mechanics

I understand that bounded states in quantum mechanics imply that the total energy of the state, $E$, is less than the potential $V_0$ at + or - spatial infinity. Similarly, the scattering state ...
6
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2answers
209 views

What is the operator form of $1/P_x$?

I know that the operator form of $1/P_x$ ($P_x$ is the $x$-component of momentum operator $\mathbf{P}$) should have an integral form like: $$\frac{i}{\hbar}\int\,dx,$$ but I'm not sure about the ...
6
votes
3answers
336 views

How does one determine ladder operators systematically?

In textbooks, the ladder operators are always defined," and shown to 'raise' the state of a system, but they are never actually derived. Does one find them simply by trial and error? Or is there a ...
6
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2answers
84 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 ...
6
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247 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 ...
6
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3answers
283 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
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1answer
404 views

Can one define an acceleration operator in quantum mechanics?

It seems most books about QM only talk about position and momentum operators. But isn't it also possible to define a acceleration operator? I thought about doing it in the following way, starting ...
6
votes
2answers
231 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
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3answers
173 views

Can eigenstates of a Hilbert space be thought of as delta functions?

Say we have an observable that describes a Hilbert space and that observable acts on state kets. Lets take the position observable for example. Then $\langle y|x\rangle = \delta(y - x)$. But can the ...
6
votes
1answer
359 views

What is the value of a quantum field?

As far as I'm aware (please correct me if I'm wrong) quantum fields are simply operators, constructed from a linear combination of creation and annihilation operators, which are defined at every point ...
6
votes
3answers
332 views

What does it mean to apply an operator to a state?

Let's say I have an operator $\hat{A}$ and a state $|\psi\rangle$. What exactly is the state $\hat{A}|\psi\rangle$? Is it just another different state that I am describing using my $\hat{A}$ and ...
6
votes
2answers
334 views

Non-associative operators in Physics

Are non-associative operators (or other kind of elements) used in Physics? For example, in QM I'm looking for something like this: $A(BC)|\psi\rangle \ne (AB)C|\psi\rangle$ NOTE: I think that this ...
6
votes
2answers
751 views

Weyl Ordering Rule

While studying Path Integrals in Quantum Mechanics I have found that [Srednicki: Eqn. no. 6.6] the quantum Hamiltonian $\hat{H}(\hat{P},\hat{Q})$ can be given in terms of the classical Hamiltonian ...
6
votes
3answers
306 views

What is the physical meaning of weak expectation values?

In the two-state formalism of Yakir Aharanov, the weak expectation value of an operator $A$ is $\frac{\langle \chi | A | \psi \rangle}{\langle \chi | \psi \rangle}$. This can have bizarre properties. ...
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0answers
238 views

Proof for the completeness of eigenfunctions of a self-adjoint operator

I always heard the eigenfunctions of a self-adjoint operator form a complete basis. Where can I find a proof in infinite dimension space? Presumably readable for physicists.
6
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0answers
100 views

Shape of the state space under different tensor products

I am currently studying generalized probabilistic theories. Let me roughly recall how such a theory looks like (you can skip this and go to "My question" if you are familiar with this). Recall: In a ...
5
votes
4answers
589 views

Is the momentum operator diagonal in position representation?

The matrix elements of the momentum operator in position representation are: $$\langle x | \hat{p} | x' \rangle = -i \hbar \frac{\partial \delta(x-x')}{\partial x}$$ Does this imply that $\langle x ...
5
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2answers
227 views

How to promote algebraic expressions to operators in quantum mechanics?

Okay, I know that in quantum mechanics the quantum observable is obtained from the classical observable by the prescription $$ X \rightarrow x,\quad P \rightarrow -i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial x} ...
5
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191 views

Quantum Mechanical Operators in the argument of an exponential

In Quantum Optics and Quantum Mechanics, the time evolution operator $$U(t,t_i) = \exp\left[\frac{-i}{\hbar}H(t-t_i)\right]$$ is used quite a lot. Suppose $t_i =0$ for simplicity, and say the ...
5
votes
3answers
233 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
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1answer
160 views

Operator norm of creation and annihilation operators

Are the creation and the annihilation operators $a(f)$ and $a^{\dagger}(f)$ for the bosonic Fock space bounded? What is their norm? So far I did not have found any note about this in the linked ...
5
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3answers
425 views

Why is this identity an if, rather than if and only if?

A recent question (Product of exponential of operators) asked who to proved that the exponentials of operators multiply in same manner as those of scalars if and only if the commutator of the ...