Questions tagged [operators]

In physics, an operator is almost always either a square matrix or a linear mapping between two function spaces (defined on, say, $\mathbb R^n$). Operators serve as observables and as time evolution operators in Quantum Mechanics. This tag will most often find valid use in quantum mechanics; don't use this tag just because your equations contain "everyday operations" like $\times$, $+$!

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24
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2answers
4k 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 ...
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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.
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1answer
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Why/How is this Wick's theorem?

Let $\phi$ be a scalar field and then I see the following expression (1) for the square of the normal ordered version of $\phi^2(x)$. \begin{align} T(:\phi^2(x)::\phi^2(0):) &= 2 \langle 0|T(\...
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1answer
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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 ...
19
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7answers
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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 $$\...
30
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3answers
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Time as a Hermitian operator in quantum mechanics

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 \...
31
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3answers
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The formal solution of the time-dependent Schrödinger equation

Consider the time-dependent Schrödinger equation (or some equation in Schrödinger form) written down as $$ \tag 1 i \partial_{0} \Psi ~=~ \hat{ H}~ \Psi . $$ Usually, one likes to write that it has a ...
14
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2answers
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Schrödinger wavefunctional quantum-field eigenstates

The reason that I have this problem is that I'm trying to solve problem 14.4 of Schwartz's QFT book, which've confused me for a long time. The problem is to construct the eigenstates of a quantum ...
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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 ...
14
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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 ...
27
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What's the deal with momentum in the infinite square well?

Every now and then a question comes up about the status of the momentum operator in the infinite square well, and while we have two good answers on the topic here and here, I'm generally not satisfied ...
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Why do we use Hermitian operators in QM?

Position, momentum, energy and other observables yield real-valued measurements. The Hilbert-space formalism accounts for this physical fact by associating observables with Hermitian ('self-adjoint') ...
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7answers
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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 ...
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4answers
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Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle scientific proof

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that: $$\sigma(x)\sigma( p_x )\ge \frac {\hbar}{2}.$$ What is the scientific proof of this principle? Operators Uncertainty
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1answer
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Time-ordering vs normal-ordering and the two-point function/propagator

I don't understand how to calculate this generalized two-point function or propagator, used in some advanced topics in quantum field theory, a normal ordered product (denoted between $::$) is ...
8
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1answer
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Creating a QM state of definite position in Fock space

I'm wondering if somebody could help me to finish a simple calculation. Let me first provide motivation for the question below: I would like to write a QM amplitude in the 'QFT-style', as $$\langle \...
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2answers
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Quantization of a particle on a spherical surface

Suppose we have a particle of mass $m$ confined to the surface of a sphere of radius $R$. The classical Lagrangian of the system is $$L = \frac{1}{2}mR^2 \dot{\theta}^2 + \frac{1}{2}m R^2 \sin^2 \...
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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 ...
36
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Is there a time operator in quantum mechanics?

The question in the title has been asked many times on this site before, of course. Here's what I found: Time as a Hermitian operator in QM? in 2011. Answer states time is a parameter. Is there an ...
36
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4answers
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How does non-commutativity lead to uncertainty?

I read that the non-commutativity of the quantum operators leads to the uncertainty principle. What I don't understand is how both things hang together. Is it that when you measure one thing first and ...
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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?
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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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Do derivatives of operators act on the operator itself or are they "added to the tail" 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 ...
38
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3answers
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What's wrong with this derivation that $i\hbar = 0$?

Let $\hat{x} = x$ and $\hat{p} = -i \hbar \frac {\partial} {\partial x}$ be the position and momentum operators, respectively, and $|\psi_p\rangle$ be the eigenfunction of $\hat{p}$ and therefore $$\...
25
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1answer
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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.
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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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
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Hermiticity of Momentum Operator (matrix) Represented in Position Basis

I read that the momentum operator, $\hat P$ should be Hermitian (some would say by QM postulate). That makes perfect sense when it is represented in the momentum (p) basis: $\hat P =\int_{-\infty}^{\...
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4answers
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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 "...
23
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10answers
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Half-integer eigenvalues of orbital angular momentum

Why do we exclude half-integer values of the orbital angular momentum? It's clear for me that an angular momentum operator can only have integer values or half-integer values. However, it's not clear ...
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3answers
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How exactly is "normal-ordering an operator" defined?

(In this question, I'm only talking about the second-quantization version of normal ordering, not the CFT version.) Most sources (e.g. Wikipedia) very quickly define normal-ordering as "reordering ...
22
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1answer
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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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7answers
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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 (...
26
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1answer
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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 $$ i\...
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2answers
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Is there any theorem that suggests that QM+SR has to be an operator theory?

UPDATE To make my question more precise, I'll define what I mean by an operator theory: An operator theory is a theory in which the dynamical objects are operators, i.e., the equations of motion are ...
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1answer
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A curious issue about Dyson-Schwinger equation (DSE): why does it work so well?

This question comes out of my other question Time ordering and time derivative in path integral formalism and operator formalism, especially from the discussion with drake. The original post is ...
14
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2answers
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If all the eigenvalues of an operator are real, is the operator Hermitian?

How do I prove or disprove the following statement? 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 ...
11
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2answers
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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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3answers
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What is the cleverest way to calculate $[\hat{a}^{M},\hat{a}^{\dagger N}]$ when $[\hat{a},\hat{a}^{\dagger}]=1$?

What are some elegant ways to calculate $$[\hat{a}^{M},\hat{a}^{\dagger N}]\qquad\text{with} \qquad[\hat{a},\hat{a}^{\dagger}]=1,$$ other than brute force calculation? (EDIT) I got the same result ...
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5answers
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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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4answers
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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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2answers
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Why is the "canonical momentum" for the Dirac equation not defined in terms of the "gauge covariant derivative"?

The canonical momentum is always used to add an EM field to the Schrödinger/Pauli/Dirac equations. Why does one not use the gauge covariant derivative? As far as I can see, the difference is a factor <...
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1answer
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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 ...
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4answers
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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 ...
17
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5answers
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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 ...
23
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What Hermitian operators can be observables?

We can construct a Hermitian operator $O$ in the following general way: find a complete set of projectors $P_\lambda$ which commute, assign to each projector a unique real number $\lambda\in\mathbb R$...
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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 canonical commutation relation, $$[x,p]= i.$$ One derivation (ref W. Greiner's Quantum Mechanics: An ...
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4answers
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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...
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4answers
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Applying an operator to a wavefunction 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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Are the path integral formalism and the operator formalism inequivalent?

Abstract The definition of the propagator $\Delta(x)$ in the path integral formalism (PI) is different from the definition in the operator formalism (OF). In general the definitions agree, but it is ...

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