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 ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms

17
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Rigged Hilbert space and QM

Are there any comprehensive texts that discuss QM using the notion of rigged Hilbert spaces? It would be nice if there were a text that went through the standard QM examples using this structure.
10
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
373 views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
933 views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
889 views

Proving that $i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial \mathbf{p}}$ is the operator of $\mathbf{x}$ in momentum space

How can I prove that $i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial \mathbf{p}}$ is the operator of $\mathbf{x}$ in momentum space?
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Why/How is this Wick's theorem?

Let $\phi$ be a scalar field and then I see the following expression for the square of the normal ordered version of $\phi^2(x)$. $$T(:\phi^2(x)::\phi^2(0):) ~=~ 2<0|T(\phi(x)\phi(0))|0>^2 $$ ...
3
votes
4answers
6k views

Mathematical background for Quantum Mechanics [duplicate]

What are some good sources to learn the mathematical background of Quantum Mechanics? I am talking functional analysis, operator theory etc etc...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Hermitian operator and reality of eigenvalues

Prove or disprove: The eigenvalues of an operator are all real if and only if the operator is hermitian. I know the proof in one way; that is, I know how to prove that if the operator is hermitian, ...
27
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
3k 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] + ...
14
votes
1answer
827 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
1k 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
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
911 views

Commutator algebra in exponents

Considering $X$ and $Y$ such that $[X,Y]=\lambda$, which is complex, and $\mu$ is another complex number, prove: $$e^{\mu(X+Y)}=e^{\mu X} e^{\mu Y} e^{-\mu^2\lambda/2}$$ My attempt (so far) is: ...
4
votes
4answers
915 views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Derivative of the product of operators and Derivative of exponential

I'm asked to show that $$\frac{d(\hat{A}\hat{B})}{d\lambda} ~=~ \frac{d\hat{A}}{d\lambda}\hat{B} + \hat{A}\frac{d\hat{b}}{d\lambda}$$ With $\lambda$ a continuous parameter. Should I use the ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

Matrix elements of momentum operator in position representation

I have two related questions on the representation of the momentum operator in the position basis. The action of the momentum operator on a wave function is to derive it: $$\hat{p} ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Prove $[A,B^n] = nB^{n-1}[A,B]$

I am trying to show that $[A,B^n] = nB^{n-1}[A,B]$ where A and B are two Hermitian operators that commute with their commutator. However, I am running into a little problem and would like a hint of ...
15
votes
6answers
17k 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
4answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

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 ...
8
votes
1answer
666 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.
7
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

Is the Uncertainty Principle valid for information about the past?

My layman understanding of the Uncertainty Principle is that you can't determine the both the position and momentum of a particle at the same point in time, because measuring one variable changes the ...
12
votes
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} ...
4
votes
1answer
682 views

Existence of adjoint of an antilinear operator, time reversal

The time reversal operator $T$ is an antiunitary operator, and I saw $T^\dagger$ in many places (for example when some guy is doing a "time reversal" $THT^\dagger$), but I wonder if there is a ...
5
votes
1answer
374 views

How can (in Dirac's terminology) the product of two “real” linear operators be “not real”?

I'm puzzled about a statement from Dirac's book, The principles of quantum mechanics, (§8, p.28): As a simple examples of this result, it should be noted that, if $\xi$ and $\eta$ are real, in ...
22
votes
3answers
899 views

Why does non-commutativity in quantum mechanics require us to use Hilbert spaces?

I am reading Why we do quantum mechanics on Hilbert spaces by Armin Scrinzi. He says on page 13: What is new in quantum mechanics is non-commutativity. For handling this, the Hilbert space ...
8
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
9
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
206 views

Bounded and Unbounded Operator

Can someone explain with a concrete example of how can I can check whether a quantum mechanical operator is bounded or unbounded? EDIT: For example., I would like to check whether $\hat ...
9
votes
4answers
640 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
131 views

Can we correctly define momentum operator only by means of position operator and their commutation relation?

In "J.M. Ziman. Electrons and Phonons: The Theory of Transport Phenomena in Solids" the author formally introduces the position (displacement) operator and then defines the momentum operator with the ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Commutator $[\hat{p},F(\hat{x})]$ of Momentum $\hat{p}$ with a Position dependent function $F(\hat{x})$?

I heard from my GSI that the commutator of momentum with a position dependent quantity is always $-i\hbar$ times the derivative of the position dependent quantity. Can someone point me towards a ...
2
votes
2answers
185 views

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 ...
17
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
6k 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 $$ ...
35
votes
2answers
662 views

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. ...
10
votes
2answers
628 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
275 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 = ...
4
votes
2answers
441 views

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 ...
7
votes
1answer
171 views

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 ...
7
votes
1answer
497 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? ...
6
votes
2answers
933 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
301 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.
3
votes
6answers
1k views

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 ...