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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Positive cone of operators: if two selfadjoints $a$, $b$ obey $a^2 + b^2 =1$, must they commute?

The question relates to the structure of the positive cone of operators, in C*-algebra. If $a$ and $b$ are selfadjoints such that $a^2 + b^2 = 1$ can one prove $a$ and $b$ commute? What one ...
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Expectation Values in Quantum Mechanics

Why is the expectation value what it is? Why don't you apply the operator, then multiply that by it's conjugate?
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What is the Momentum Operator?

I know the equation for the momentum operator, but what exactly is the momentum operator? It's bizarre to me that taking the derivative of the wave function, which is an operator, should return ...
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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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Is time ordering defined for a single operator depending of two time variables?

The time ordering for the purpose of quantum mechanics is e.g. given by $${\mathcal T} \left[A(x) B(y)\right] := \begin{matrix} A(x) B(y) & \textrm{ if } & x_0 > y_0 \\ \pm B(y)A(x) & ...
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Is continuous evolution from one eigenstate of operator $O$ to another $O$-eigenstate possible?

Eigenvectors associated with distinct values of an observable are orthogonal, according to quantum mechanics. Does this entail that a quantum system cannot continuously evolve from one eigenstate ...
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Curved spacetime as a coherent state in string theory

I have a question about Polchinski's string theory book, volume I, p 108. When we write the Polyakov action in curved spacetime, it is said $$ S_{\sigma} = \frac{1}{4\pi\alpha'} \int_M d^2 \sigma ...
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940 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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234 views

Implicit Postulate of Quantum Mechanics

Consider the following quantum system: a particle in a one dimensional box (= infinite potential well). The energy eigenstates wave functions all vanish outside the box. But the position eigenstates ...
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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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Space translation of operators, states, and particle densities

In Sidney Coleman's Lectures he talked about space translations such that $$\tag{1} e^{ia P}\rho(x) e^{-ia P} ~=~ \rho(x-a),$$ but when I expanded the exponentials and used the commutation relation ...
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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 ...
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Justification for smeared fields in the Wightman axioms?

I just started reading PCT, Spin and Statistics, and All That. Can someone explain why we use operator valued distributions to describe fields? I read somewhere that it would take infinite energy to ...
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Heisenberg picture of QM as a result of Hamilton formalism

Let's have formula of full time-derivative of physical value in Poisson's formalism: $$\tag{1} \frac{df}{dt} = -[H, f]_{P. br.} + \frac{\partial f}{\partial t}, $$ where $[A, B]_{P. br.}$ is Poisson's ...
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What conserved quantities are in 1D free quantum particle

From Laundau & Lifshitz "Quantum Mechanics": If there are two conserved physical quantities $f$ and $g$ whose operators do not commute, then the energy levels of the system are in general ...
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The square of Pauli-Lubanski operator

Let's have Pauli-Lubanski operator: $$ \hat {W}^{\alpha} = \frac{1}{2}\varepsilon^{\alpha \beta \gamma \delta}\hat {J}_{\beta \gamma}\hat {P}_{\delta} = \frac{1}{2}\varepsilon^{\alpha \beta \gamma ...
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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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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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255 views

Unitary transformations in mixed discrete-continuous representations

I am having trouble with the unitary transformation of a certain Hamiltonian in the paper Zhai, H. Spin-orbit coupled quantum gases. Int. J. Mod. Phys. B 26 no. 1, 1230001 (2012). arXiv:1110.6798 ...
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Quantum Mechanics Basics: product space

Consider a coupled harmonic oscillator with their position given by $x_1$ and $x_2$. Say the normal coordinates $x_{\pm}={1\over\sqrt{2}} (x_1\pm x_2)$, in which the harmonic oscillators decouple, ...
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Compute the central charge of $bc$ conformal field theory

I have a s****d question, how to calculate the central charge of $bc$ conformal-field theory in Polchinski's string theory, Eq. (2.5.12)? For a $bc$ CFT given by $$S=\frac{1}{2\pi } \int d^2 z \,\,b ...
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What physical value is described by following operator?

Let's have the system of point-like non-interacting particles and it's own angular momentum $$ \mathbf L_{1} = \mathbf L - [\mathbf R_{E} \times \mathbf P], $$ where $\mathbf R_{E}$ - center of energy ...
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Axiomatic structure behind Dirac's formulation of QM?

According to the paper Quantum Mechanics Beyond Hilbert Space by J.P. Antoine, several mathematical structures have been devised to make mathematical sense of Dirac's formulation of quantum mechanics ...
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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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Identify the coefficients of Operator Product Expansion (OPE)

Sorry I have a stupid question in Polchinski's string theory book vol 1, p46. For a holomorphic function $T(z)$ with a general operator $\mathcal{A}$, there is a Laurent expansion $$T(z) A(0,0) \sim ...
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Number operator and Dirac field (with anticommutation relations)

Before using anticommutation relatives the energy, momentum, charge and number operators of the Dirac field have following expressions: $$ \hat {H} = \int \epsilon_{\mathbf p}\left( \hat ...
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Reason behind canonical quantization in QFT?

Reason behind canonical quantization in QFT? In the scalar field theory we simply promote the scalar field, $\phi(x)$ to a set of operators: $\hat{\phi}(x)$. What is the reason behind this?
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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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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 ...
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quantum mechanics current operators

How to derive the charge current and the energy current operators in second quantized form in Quantum mechanics ? Also if you could comment in a similar way on the entropy current operator, that will ...
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Operator on Function of Momentum (QM)

I have exactly 0 clue on how to start this problem, but I would be forever grateful for a hint in the right direction. Given the operators $\hat x=x$ and $\hat p=-i\hbar \frac{d}{dx}$, prove the ...
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Unitary spacetime translation operator

Srednicki writes: We can make this a little fancier by defining the unitary spacetime translation operator $$ T(a) \equiv \exp(-iP^\mu a_\mu/ \hbar) $$ Then we have $$ T(a)^{-1} \phi(x) T(a) = ...
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Time-ordered Derivative and Equal-time Commutator

In Green, Schwarz & Witten Superstring theory, Vol. I, page 141, I don't understand how pulling the derivative inside the Time-ordered product can give an Equal-time Commutator: $$\tag{3.2.44} ...
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Does the Renormalization of QFT Contradict Canonical Quantization?

Does the renormalization of QFT contradict canonical quantization? In canonical quantization, you take the classical fields and canonical momenta and turn them into operators, and you require that ...
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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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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.
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Schrödinger equation in position representation

$$ \DeclareMathOperator{\dif}{d \!} \newcommand{\ramuno}{\mathrm{i}} \newcommand{\exponent}{\mathrm{e}} \newcommand{\ket}[1]{|{#1}\rangle} \newcommand{\bra}[1]{\langle{#1}|} ...
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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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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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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} + ...
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Are higher order mixed partial derivatives of wave function with different ordination equal?

For example, given two operators: $$A = \frac{\partial}{\partial x}+\frac{\partial}{\partial y},$$ $$B =\frac{\partial^2}{\partial x^2}+\frac{\partial^2}{\partial y^2} + 1.$$ Deriving commutator ...
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Expectation value of position in infinite square well

I'm looking for some help to a question. I'm working in the infinite square well, and I have the wavefunction: $$\psi(x,t=0)=A\left( i\sqrt{2}\phi_{1}+\sqrt{3}\phi_{2} \right).$$ For every time t, ...
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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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Replacing an operator with its expectation value

While dealing with a circling particle in an spherical symetric potential our professor said that we can replace an operator of $z$ component of angular momentum $\hat{L}_z$ with the expectation value ...
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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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Non-Hermiticity when Fourier transforming onto a finite lattice

I'm doing numerical simulations. I have the Haldane model in a honeycomb lattice where $$ H = \sum \limits_{<ij>}a^\dagger_i b_j + h.c $$ Where $i$ belongs to sublattice $A$, and $j$ to ...
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From position space to momentum space

Lets say I have a state vector $\left|\Psi(t)\right\rangle$ in a position space with an orthonormal position basis. If I now use an operator $\hat{p}$ on this basis I will get basis which corresponds ...
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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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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 ...
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An application of Toeplitz operators

I want to find an application of the Toeplitz operators. All I need is a known problem (not an open problem) which solution use the theory of Toeplitz operators. I don't need all the details but I ...