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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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 "...
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Physics Applications of Fredholm Theory:

I find Fredholm theory beautiful, especially the Liouville-Neumann series for solving Fredholm integral equations of the second kind. There seems to be a consensus that these equations are quite ...
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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 dimensions,...
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How can I write a Gaussian state as a squeezed, displaced thermal state

I would like to write a Gaussian state with density matrix $\rho$ (single mode) as a squeezed, displaced thermal state: \begin{gather} \rho = \hat{S}(\zeta) \hat{D}(\alpha) \rho_{\bar{n}} \hat{D}^\...
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What is meant by a “c-number”?

In Chapter 2 of David Tong's QFT notes, he uses the term "c-number" without ever defining it. Here is the first place. However, it's easy to check by direct substitution that the left-hand side ...
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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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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 ...
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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 $\...
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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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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} $...
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Does Heisenberg equation of motion imply the Schrodinger equation for evolution operator?

Let us choose to postulate (e.g. considering the analogy of the Hamiltonian being a generator of time evolution in classical mechanics) $$ i\hbar \frac{d\hat{U}}{dt}=\hat{H}\hat{U}\tag{1} $$ where $\...
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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 $A$.
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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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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 $H(...
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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How to replace $T$-product with retarded commutator in LSZ formula?

I am reading Itzykson and Zuber's Quantum Field Theory book, and am unable to understand a step that is made on page 246: Here, they consider the elastic scattering of particle $A$ off particle $B$: ...
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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 ...
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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 "...
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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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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 ...
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Once a quantum partition function is in path integral form, does it contain any operators?

Once a quantum partition function is in path integral form, does it contain any operators? I.e. The quantum partition function is $Z=tr(e^{-\beta H})$ where $H$ is an operator, the Hamiltonian of the ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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' \...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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}} $ ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Derivatives of operators

How do derivatives of operators work? Do they act on the terms in the derivative or do they just get "added to the tail"? Is there a conceptual way to understand this? For example: say you had the ...
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Dilation operator in CFT viewed as 'hamiltonian'?

From the commutation relations for the conformal Lie algebra, we may infer that the dilation operator plays the same role as the Hamiltonian in CFTs. The appropriate commutation relations are $[D,P_{...
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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 $|\...
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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 ...
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Basic Question - Green's Functions in Quantum Mechanics

I am trying to learn about Green's functions as part of my graduate studies and have a rather basic question about them: In my maths textbooks and a lot of places online, the basic Greens function G ...
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Kraus operator rank

All quantum operations $\mathcal{E}$ on a system of Hilbert space dimension $\mathcal{d}$ can be generated by an operator-sum representation containing at most $\mathcal{d^2}$ elements. Extending ...
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Self-adjointness

I know I have posted this question before some time ago. But no one could help so I decided to put my problem in another background. The Schrödinger equation of a free scalar field is given by $i\...
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Find $\hat{x}$ operator given $\hat{p}$ operator

This is problem $1.2$ of Molecular Quantum Mechanics by Atkins, 4th edition. I'm given the momentum operator $$p=\sqrt{\frac{\hbar}{2m}}(A+B)$$ with $$[A,B]=1$$ and I need to find $x$ in this ...
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Constructing differential equation from arbitrary Hamiltonian

Suppose I begin with the time-independent Schrodinger equation $$ \left(-\frac{1}{2m}\partial_x^2 + V(x)\right)\psi_n(x) = E_n\psi_n(x), $$ ordinarily we specify the function $V$ and then solve for a ...
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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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Uncertainty relation for non-simultaneous observation

Heisenberg's uncertainty relation in the Robertson-Schroedinger formulation is written as, $$\sigma_A^2 \sigma_B^2 \geq |\frac{1}{2} \langle\{\hat A, \hat B\}\rangle -\langle \hat A\rangle\langle \...
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Role of physics in the zeta function $\zeta$ and the Riemann hypothesis

Hilbert and Polya suggested a physical way to verify the Riemann hypotesis about $\zeta(x)$. If the Riemann hypotesis is true, we can state all eigenvalues of physical problems are real. What is the ...
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Commutator with exponential $[A, \exp(B)]$

How can I tell if $A$ and $\exp(B)$ commute? For $[A, B]$ it's simply $AB-BA$ and for $[\exp(A), \exp(B)]$ I think it'd be $\exp(A)\exp(B) - \exp(B)\exp(A) = \exp(A+B) - \exp(B+A) = 0$. Update: it's ...