# Questions tagged [commutator]

A mathematical construct quantifying the difference in effect of applying two operators in two alternate successions. It is the defining product of a Lie algebra, the efficient underlying description of Lie groups, of use in several areas of physics, most notably quantum field theory.

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### What is the physical meaning of commutators in quantum mechanics?

This is a question I've been asked several times by students and I tend to have a hard time phrasing it in terms they can understand. This is a natural question to ask and it is not usually well ...
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### Trace of a commutator is zero - but what about the commutator of $x$ and $p$?

Operators can be cyclically interchanged inside a trace: $${\rm Tr} (AB)~=~{\rm Tr} (BA).$$ This means the trace of a commutator of any two operators is zero: $${\rm Tr} ([A,B])~=~0.$$ But what about ...
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### What is the mistake in calculating such a commutator? [duplicate]

$B$ is an Hermitian operator in Hilbert space, and $|b\rangle$ is the eigenstate of $B$. We can have $[A, B] = 1$ where A is arbitary operator. Then we can calculate as below: \begin{align} &\...
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### Quantizing a complex Klein-Gordon Field: Why are there two types of excitations?

In most references I've seen (see, for example, Peskin and Schroeder problem 2.2, or section 2.5 here), one constructs the field operator $\hat{\phi}$ for the complex Klein-Gordon field as follows: ...
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### What exactly is the connection between the Jacobi and Bianchi identities?

While reviewing some basic field theory, I once again encountered the Bianchi identity (in the context of electromagnetism). It can be written as $$\partial_{[\lambda}\partial_{[\mu}A_{\nu]]}=0.$$ ...
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### Does the canonical commutation relation fix the form of the momentum operator?

For one dimensional quantum mechanics $$[\hat{x},\hat{p}]=i\hbar.$$ Does this fix univocally the form of the $\hat{p}$ operator? My bet is no because $\hat{p}$ actually depends if we are on ...
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### How to construct the radial component of the momentum operator?

I'm having trouble doing it. I know so far that if we have two Hermitian operators $A$ and $B$ that do not commute, and suppose we wish to find the quantum mechanical Hermitian operator for the ...
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### Eigenstate of position+momentum?

I'm studying Quantum Mechanics on my own, so I'm bound to have alot of wrong ideas - please be forgiving! Recently, I was thinking about the quantum mechanical assertion (postulate?) that states with ...
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### Commutator not transitive

I noticed the following: $$[L_{+},L^2]=0,\qquad [L_{+},L_3]\neq 0,\qquad [L^2,L_3]=0.$$ This would suggest, that $L^2,L_+$ have a common system of eigenfunctions, and so do $L^2,L_3$, but $L_+,L_3$ ...
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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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### Why are anticommutators needed in quantization of Dirac fields?

Why is the anticommutator actually needed in the canonical quantization of free Dirac field?
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### Mutual or same set of eigenfunctions if two operators commute

If two operators commute, do they have "a mutual set of eigenfunctions", or "the same set of eigenfunctions"? My quantum chemistry book uses these as if they are interchangeable, but they do not seem ...
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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 ...
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### Symmetry in quantum mechanics

My professor told us that in quantum mechanics a transformation is a symmetry transformation if $$UH(\psi) = HU(\psi)$$ Can you give me an easy explanation for this definition?
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### Fundamental Commutation Relations in Quantum Mechanics

I am trying to compile a list of fundamental commutation relations involving position, linear momentum, total angular momentum, orbital angular momentum, and spin angular momentum. Here is what I have ...
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### Renormalization and canonical commutation relations

My question is whether canonical commutation relations hold for renormalized quantum fields. Below I show reasoning which caused by doubts. Consider a relativistic scalar QFT. We have spectral ...
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### 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: ...
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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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### Proof of Canonical Commutation Relation (CCR)

I am not sure how $QP-PQ =i\hbar$ where $P$ represent momentum and $Q$ represent position. $Q$ and $P$ are matrices. The question would be, how can $Q$ and $P$ be formulated as a matrix? Also, what is ...
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### Binomial expansion of non-commutative operators

I would like to determine the general expansion of $$(\hat{A}+\hat{B})^n,$$ where $[\hat{A},\hat{B}]\neq 0$, i.e. $\hat{A}$ and $\hat{B}$ are two generally non-commutative operators. How could I ...
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### Derive canonical commutation relations from Schwingers principle

The book of Dyson "Quantum-Field-Theory" states in section 4.4 that one can derive canonical commutation relations from Schwingers quantum action principle. However, doesn't give a calculation for the ...
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### Quantum mechanics with multiple values of $\hbar$

The quantity $\hbar$ appears in quantum mechanics by the canonical commutation relation $$[x, p] = i \hbar.$$ Would it be sensible to quantize different conjugate variable pairs with different values ...
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### Commutator of Lorentz boost generators : visual interpretation

I have always struggled to visualize the correctness of the commutation relation for the generators of the boost in the Lorentz group. We have $$[K_i,K_j] = i \epsilon_{ijk} L_k$$ I fail to picture ...