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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Identity of Operator Product Expansion (OPE)

I have one more s****d question in Polchinski's string theory book, Eqs. (2.3.14a) $$ j^{\mu}(z) :e^{ik \cdot X(0,0)}:~ \sim~ \frac{k^{\mu}}{2 z} :e^{ik \cdot X(0,0)}:,$$ where $j^{\mu}_a ...
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1answer
789 views

Matrix representation for fermionic annihilation operator

My guess it should look something like this: $ c_\sigma = ...
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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 ...
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8k views

Evolution operator for time-dependent Hamiltonian

When I studied QM I'm only working with time independent Hamiltonians. In this case the unitary evolution operator has the form $$\hat{U}=e^{-\frac{i}{\hbar}Ht}$$ that follows from this equation $$ ...
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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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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, ...
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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 ...
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445 views

Where does the $i$ come from in the Schrödinger equation?

I am currently trying to follow Leonard Susskind's "Theoretical Minimum" lecture series on quantum mechanics. (I know a bit of linear algebra and calculus, so far it seems definitely enough to follow ...
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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 ...
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489 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.
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539 views

The cleverest way to calculate $\left[\hat{a}^{M},\hat{a}^{\dagger N}\right]$ with $\left[\hat{a},\hat{a}^{\dagger}\right]=1$

Who can provide me some elegant solution for $$\left[\hat{a}^{M},\hat{a}^{\dagger N}\right]\qquad\text{with} \qquad\left[\hat{a},\hat{a}^{\dagger}\right]~=~1$$ other than brute force calculation? ...
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1answer
297 views

Evaluate $\langle \mathbf{p} | 1/\hat{r} | \mathbf{p}' \rangle$

In Sakurai's Problem 1.27 b), we use $\langle \mathbf{r} | \mathbf{p}\rangle = e^{i\mathbf{p}\cdot\mathbf{r}/\hbar}$ to show that $$ \langle \mathbf{p} | F(\hat{r}) | \mathbf{p}' \rangle = ...
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Is there a formalism for talking about diagonality/commutativity of operators with respect to an overcomplete basis?

Consider a density matrix of a free particle in non-relativistic quantum mechanics. Nice, quasi-classical particles will be well-approximated by a wavepacket or a mixture of wavepackets. The ...
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135 views

Has anyone published the procedure to generalize ladder operators for any potential in Schrodinger's equation?

I know that the ladder operator for the quantum harmonic oscillator \begin{align} H\psi_m = \left(\dfrac{p^2}{2m}+\dfrac{1}{2}m\omega^2x^2\right)\psi_m=E_m\psi_m \end{align} is \begin{align} A = ...
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340 views

Directional derivatives in the multivariable Taylor expansion of the translation operator

Let $T_\epsilon=e^{i \mathbf{\epsilon} P/ \hbar}$ an operator. Show that $T_\epsilon\Psi(\mathbf r)=\Psi(\mathbf r + \mathbf \epsilon)$. Where $P=-i\hbar \nabla$. Here's what I've gotten: ...
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Is H=H* sloppy notation or really just incorrect, for Hermitian operators?

I saw it in this pdf, where they state that $P=P^\dagger$ and thus $P$ is hermitian. I find this notation confusing, because an operator A is Hermitian if $\langle \Psi | A \Psi \rangle=\langle A ...
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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 ...
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Tricky operator identity: $[L^2,[L^2,\vec{r}]]=2 \hbar ^2 \{ L^2, \vec{r}\}$?

This operator identity showed up in a course I was taking, and it was given without proof. $$[L^2,[L^2,\vec{r}]]=2 \hbar ^2 \{ L^2, \vec{r}\}$$ The curly brackets denote the anticommutator, $AB+BA$. ...
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271 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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0answers
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Action of Parity operator on Impulse representation

Is my derivation of the action of the parity operator $\mathbb{P}$ on the $|p\rangle$ representation correct? $$\left( \mathbb{P}\tilde\psi \right)(p)= - \tilde\psi (p).$$ Obtained from $$\left( ...
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423 views

Countable Matrix Representation

In my quantum mechanics class, my professor explained that the Hamiltonian along with position and momentum operators can be represented by matrices of countable dimension. This is especially usefull ...
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853 views

The Momentum Operator in QM

I've seen the 'derivation' as to why momentum is an operator, but I still don't buy it. Momentum has always been just a product $m{\bf v}$. Why should it now be an operator. Why can't we just multiply ...
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Why isn't the Heisenberg uncertainty principle stated in terms of spacetime?

As I understand it, there are two "versions" of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle: Position-Momentum uncertainty \begin{equation} \sigma_x \sigma_p \geq \frac{\hbar}{2} \end{equation} where ...
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196 views

Where does the partial derivative come from in Sakurai's derivation of the momentum operator?

How is the momentum operator derived in Dirac formalism? I am reading Quantum Mechanics by Sakurai and he gives the following derivation. But I don't understand how he goes from the third equation to ...
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182 views

Perturbation of an operator - Meaning of matrix element [closed]

Let be $B$ an operator and $\left|\Psi\right>$, $\left|\Phi\right>$ two states (not necessarily equals). What is the meaning of a matrix element $\left<\Psi\right| B ...
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745 views

What is the most general expression for the coordinate representation of momentum operator?

I have a question about deriving the coordinate representation of momentum operator from the commutation relation, $[x,p]= i$. One derivation (ref W. Greiner's Quantum Mechanics: An Introduction, 4th ...
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220 views

Linearizing Quantum Operators

I was reading an article on harmonic generation and came across the following way of decomposing the photon field operator. $$ \hat{A}={\langle}\hat{A}{\rangle}I+ \Delta\hat{a}$$ The right hand side ...
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1answer
142 views

Observables - what are they?

I often read in books that an observable is represented by an Hermitean operator. But it is deceiving as operator isn't the observable. As far as I've read the observable is denoted like $\langle ...
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2answers
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How To Use Ladder Operators?

I'm studying for a test in quantum mechanics and I'm having a hard time understanding how to use ladder operators. There are no examples in my text book, only definitions that I can't understand how ...
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1answer
2k views

Rotation matrix is always a unitary operator

Can someone explain why the rotation matrix is a unitary, specifically orthogonal, operator?
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475 views

Wick Order and Radial Ordering in CFT

I am not so much familiar with the computations tools of conformal field theory, and I just run into an exercise asking to demonstrate the following formula (related to the bosonic field case): ...
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1answer
674 views

Is there a simple way of finding the eigenstates of the creation and annihilation operator in QM?

How can I find the eigenstates of creation and annihilation operator in QM? My attempt: Such eigenstate will obey: $$ a^{\dagger} |\psi \rangle = \alpha |\psi \rangle. $$ We can expand $|\psi ...
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1answer
270 views

Help Simplifying a Commutator Equation

For the SHO, our teacher told us to scale $$p\rightarrow \sqrt{m\omega\hbar} ~p$$ $$x\rightarrow \sqrt{\frac{\hbar}{m\omega}}~x$$ And then define the following $$K_1=\frac 14 (p^2-q^2)$$ $$K_2=\frac ...
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1answer
37 views

State-operator map, and scalar fields

Up so far, i have been studied state-operator correspondence, $i.e$, i have been questioned State operator corrponding $i.e$ $S\times S$ to $R^2$ which was wrong question. By studing Ginsparg's ...
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Why is only one quantity of angular momentum i.e. $L_z$ quantized & not $L_x$ & $L_y$?

This is quoted from Arthur Beiser's Concepts of Modern Physics: Why is only one quantity of $\mathbf{L}$ quantized? The answer is related to the fact that $\mathbf{L}$ can never point in any ...
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3answers
847 views

Simple Quantum Mechanics Question about The Commutator of Translation Operators

Say there is $\hat{J} = \exp[-i \hat{p} l/ \hbar]$ and $\hat{U}= \exp[-i\hat{H}t/ \hbar]$, where $\hat{H}$ is time-independent. Can we say anything about $[\hat{J},\hat{U}]$? Is it zero? How do we ...
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621 views

Expectation of momentum in the bound state

Is it logically correct to assert that the expectation of the momentum $$\langle \hat p \rangle=0$$ for any bound state because it is bound to some finite region? What is the physical interpretation ...
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1answer
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Non-Hermitian operator with real eigenvalues?

So we know that in Quantum Mechanics we require the operators to be Hermitian, so that their eigenvalues are real ($\in \mathbb{R}$) because they correspond to observables. What about a non-Hermitian ...
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1answer
217 views

Why are Hermitian operators linked to observables?

In Quantum Mechanics, why is it that a self-adjoint operator is linked to an observable? What makes it measureable? And why isn't a non-Hermitian operator linked to an observable? Also, what type of ...
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226 views

Why is quantum mechancis is not content with symmetric operators, but wants self-adjoint operators?

A symmetric operator has only real eigenvalues and different eigenvectors corresponding to different eigenvalues are orthogonal. These are exactly what we want for a physical observable. I think ...
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1answer
154 views

Time reversal symmetry and real symmetric Hamiltonian matrix

In the literature (like those in quantum chaos), it seems that time-reversal symmetry implies that the Hamiltonian of the system is a real symmetric one, instead of just being complex Hermitian. Is ...
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1answer
107 views

Eigenvalues of Angular Momentum in Quantum Mechanics

The eigenvalue equation of the $L^2$ operator is given by $$L^2f_l^m = \hbar ^2l(l+1)f_l^m$$ Side: So a determinate state for some observable $Q$ is a state where every measurement of $Q$ returns ...
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1answer
1k 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 ...
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Density matrix formalism

The density matrix $\hat{\rho}$ is often introduced in textbooks as a mathematical convenience that allows us to describe quantum systems in which there is some level of missing information. ...
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984 views

Applying an operator to a function vs. a (ket) vector

I have a question regarding the effect of quantum mechanical operators. The definition that I'm familiar with says that an operator $A$ acts on a vector from a Hilbert space, $|\psi\rangle$, and the ...
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Differences between symmetric, Hermitian, self-adjoint, and essentially self-adjoint operators

I am a physicist. I always heard physicists used the terminology "symmetric", "Hermitian", "self-adjoint", and "essentially self-adjoint" operators interchangeably. Actually what is the difference ...
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635 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 ...
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176 views

Recovering QM from QFT

Reading through David Tong lecture notes on QFT. On pages 43-44, he recovers QM from QFT. See below link: QFT notes by Tong First the momentum and position operators are defined in terms of ...
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Does the commutator of anything with itself not vanish?

In a quantum mechanics exam one question was to write the commutator of a couple of operators. Everybody got points taken away since they did not write $[Q_i, Q_i] = 0$ for all the operators $Q_i$ in ...
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779 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 ...