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PH 205: Mathematical methods of physics

Problem Set 3
1. In this problem you will construct bases for the dual of the vector space of real valued functions of the form
f(x) =

n
a
n
x
n
,
with x in some domain (x
1
, x
2
). Recall that given a set of basis vectors {v
i
} of a vector space, you can obtain
a basis for the dual space by constructing linear functionals {
j
} with the property that

j
(v
i
) =
ij
.
First consider the set of Legendre polynomials whose elements form an orthogonal basis set for the above vector
space with x
1
= 1 and x
2
= 1.
(a) Use the orthogonality property of the Legendre polynomials to obtain the basis vectors for the dual space.
Do the same with the Hermite polynomials and x
1
= 0 and x
2
= .
Now, consider the set of monomials {1, x, x
2
, x
3
, . . . }. This set can also be thought of as a basis for the given
vector space. However, as you have shown in problem set # 2, there is no way to orthogonalize the monomials
using an inner product in the form of an integral with a kernel. Thus, a construction of a set of basis vectors
for the dual space analogous o the ones staring with the Legendre and Hermite polynomials does not exist for
monomials.
(c) Neverthelss, show by explicit construction that it is still possible to obtain linear functionals {
j
} with

j
(v
i
) =
ij
that form a basis for the dual space where v
i
is a monomial. (Hint: Use derivatives.)
(d) What would be the analogous construction for the basis set of Legendre polynomials?
2. The rank-nullity theorem has a neat application in dimensional analysis. Recall that dimensional analysis
allows you to construct secondary physical quantities in terms of more fundamental dimensionful ones. The
fundamental quantities are typically mass, length, time, charge and temperature and the secondary ones can
be velocity, momentum, force, energy, electric eld, magnetic eld, entropy, specic heat etc. For concreteness
assume that there are p fundamental quantities f
1
, f
2
, . . . f
p
and you want to construct n secondary quantities
q
1
, q
2
. . . q
n
using them. Dimensional analysis tells you that each q
i
is of the form
q
i
=
p

j=1
(f
j
)
a
ji
,
where the a
ji
s are numbers (typically integers) and form a matrix A. A secondary quantity q
i
is dimensionless
if a
ji
= 0 j.
(a) Assume that the fs are mass, length and time and the qs are velocity, energy, angular momentum and
torque. Work out the matrix A.
A set of secondary quantities q
1
, q
2
, . . . q
m
for some m are said to be independent if it is not possible to form
any dimensionless quantity of the form

m
j=1
(q
j
)
b
j
using them. The fundamental quantities f are independent
by denition.
(b) Show that there is a one to one correspondence between Ker(A) and all possible dimensionless combinations
that can be formed out of q
1
, q
2
. . . q
n
. Verify this for (a).
(c) Show that the rank of A (call it r) is equal to the maximum number of independent quantities from among
q
1
, q
2
. . . q
n
. Again, verify this for (a).
(d) Now, consider a relation p(q
1
, q
2
. . . q
n
) = C, where C is a dimensionful quantity and the function p
involves a product of each of the qs raised to some power. Show that
p(q
1
, q
2
. . . q
n
) = h(q
1
, q
2
, . . . q
r
, d
1
, d
2
, . . . d
k
),
where the ds are dimensionless quantities. Each argument is raised to some power in the function h. What
is the value of k (think rank-nullity)? Check this result for (a) by picking some function p.
2
(e) Argue that the the idependent quantities q
1
, q
2
, . . . q
r
can be elminated so that the relation p(q
1
, q
2
. . . q
n
) = C can be cast in the form g(d
1
, d
2
. . . d
k
) = D, where g is also a function where each argument
is raised to some power and D is a dimensionless quantity. Thus, what you have shown is that any
dimensionful equation involving the quantities q is equivalent to a relation among a smaller number (k) of
dimensionless quantities. This is a consequence of the rank-nullity theorem.
3. The Pauli spin matrices are used to represent the operators for the dierent components of the spin of an
electron. They are dened as

x
=

0 1
1 0

,
y
=

0 i
i 0

and
z
=

1 0
0 1

.
The operator for the spin along the dierction of the unit vector n can then be written as

n
= n.,
where =
x
x +
y
y +
z
z.
(a) What are the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of
n
?
(b) Calculate the commutator [
n
,
m
] for unit vectors n and m.
(c) Calculate (
n
)
N
, where N is a non-negative integer. Use the result to argue that the operators sin(
n
)
and cos(
n
), where is a complex number are of the form A

+ B

n
, where A

and B are constants


that depend on . What are the values of these constants?
4. Odds and ends.
(a) For a square matrix A, show that
log(det A) = Tr log A
(b) Let X be a column vector of unit norm. Obtain all the eigenvalues of the matrix XX

.
(c) Prove that the diagonalizing matrices for Hermitian (real symmetric) matrices are unitary (orthogonal).
(d) Given a matrix A, the matrix B = A

A is clearly Hermitian. Is the converse true, i.e. for every Hermitian


matrix B, does there exist a matrix A such that B = A

A?
(e) Prove that the product of two Hermitian matrices is Hermitian i they commute.
(f) Prove that [f(x), p] = i
df
dx
. here x and p are the position and the momentum operators and f(x) is a
function that has a Taylor expansion in x. For this problem use only the fact that [x, p] = i and not that
p =

i
d
dx
. (Hint: Calculate [x
n
, p] for positive integers n.)
(g) An orthogonal n n matrix has a trace equal to t. What is the value of its determinant?
5. The value of the Gaussian integral

exp(x
2
) dx =

,
where is a positive real number.
(a) Warm up: Calculate


x
1
=


x
2
=
exp(x
2
1
x
2
2
) dx
1
dx
2
,
where , > 0.
(b) Now consider the integral
I =


x
1
=


x
2
=
exp(X
T
MX) dx
1
dx
2
,
3
where X =

x
1
x
2

and X
T
is the transpose of X. M is a real symmetric matrix. Prove that the integral
exists only if M has only positive eigenvalues and its value is

det M
. To prove this you will need to one
of the results from problem 3 and the fact that when you transform co-ordinates from X =

x
1
x
2

to
Y =

y
1
y
2

, through the transformation Y = OX, where O is a matrix, the area element transforms as
dx
1
dx
2
=
dy
1
dy
2
| det O|
.
The factor | det O| is called the Jacobian of the transformation from X to Y . (Hint: Convert the integral
to the form of (a).)
(c) How does the above result generalize to the case when X is an N-dimensional column vector of reals and
the matrix M is an N N real symmteric matrix?