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# QM 2.

## very light objects (electrons, nuclei, atoms, molecules, . . . ). The mathematics

of Quantum Theory and the physical phenomena that take place in systems

where Quantum Mechanics applies, are very dierent from those of classical

mechanics.

## In Newton's classical scheme, the fundamental variables (the positions,

the momenta, the kinetic or the potential energy of the particles) are num-

## are represented by mathematical objects called operators. In this chapter,

you learn what an operator is and which operators represent the dynamical

## a given number, to produce another number. For example, y = f (x) x2 is

shorthand for the following rules: take the argument x of f(x) and calculate

## its square. The number you obtain is the value of f (x).

QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 2

This concept can be generalized to dene rules that use as input a function

## Such a set of rules is called an operator. An operator is to functions what a

function is to numbers.

^
(x) = O(x) (2.1)

Here O ^ is

## x 3. Examples of operators. I give here several examples, which illustrate

the kinds of operators that you will encounter in your study of Quantum

^ x dened by
Mechanics. The operator O

^ x f (x; y; z) = xf (x; y; z)
O (2.2)

acts on a function f (x; y; z) to produce the function xf(x; y; z). This rule is

## easy to apply; for example:

^ x sin(x2 ) = x sin(x2 )
O

^ x [xy ln x] = x2 y ln x
O
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 3

## ^ x , the result is that func-

No matter to what function I apply the operator O

tion multiplied by x.

Another example is

## where V (x; y; z) is a function specied in advance. The operator V^ turns

a function f (x; y; z) into the function V (x; y; z) f(x; y; z). If V (x) = kx2 =2

then

^ kx2
V f(x; y; z) = f (x; y; z)
2

## Another important operator is dened by

h
@
p^x (x; y; z) = (x; y; z) (2.4)
i @x
p
h
is Planck's constant and i = 1. The previous operators involved multi-

## (x; y; z) = exp[ikx x + iky y + ikz z]

then

p^x (x; y; z) = h
kx exp[ikx x + iky y + ikz z]

## (Remember that @ exp [ikx x] =@x = ikx exp [ikx x].)

QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 4

## Similarly, I can dene

@
h
p^y (x; y; z) = (x; y; z) (2.5)
i @y

I do next.

C^ A^ + B
^

^ = A
C ^ + B
^

## ^ on . You know how to add A

on to the result of acting with B ^ to B
^

## When is a complex number, the operator

^ A^
D
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 5

is dened by

^ = (A)
D ^

## ^ acts on , you calculate the function = A

To calculate how D ^ and

## multiply the result by .

We can combine these rules to create new operators. For example, the

operator C^ dened by

C^ = p^x + 2O
^x

## ^ x by Eq. 2.2) acts on the function as

(where p^x is dened by Eq. 2.4 and O

shown below:

^ =h
C
@
+ 2x
i @x

## x 5. Operator multiplication. I dene the symbol A^B

^ by the following rule:

A^B
^ = A(
^ B)
^ = A
^ where = B
^ (2.6)

^ has
This means: take the function and calculate the eect the operator B

on it. Call the function obtained in this way . Apply the operator A^ to .

^ on .

## how to use Mathematica to manipulate operators.) Consider the operator

QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 6

^ x , where O
p^x O ^ x is dened by Eq. 2.2 and p^x is dened by Eq. 2.4:

^ x (x; y; z) = p^x (O
p^x O ^ x (x; y; z)) = p^x (x(x; y; z))

h
@
= (x(x; y; z))
i @x
h
h
@(x; y; z)
= (x; y; z) + x (2.7)
i i @x

@
Note that in the calculation performed above, @x
acts on x(x; y; z).

## Let us now apply the operators in the opposite order:

!
^x h
^ x p^x (x; y; z) = O
O
@
(x; y; z) = x
h
@(x; y; z)
(2.8)
i @x i @x

## ^ x p^x diers from p^x O

O ^ x : the operators O
^ x and p^x do not commute.

## ^ x p^y and p^y O

For practice, let us calculate how O ^ x act on a function

(x; y; z):

## ^ x (x; y; z) = p^y (x) = h

p^y O
@ h
@(x; y; z)
x(x; y; z) = x (2.9)
i @y i @y
!
O ^x h
^ x p^y (x; y; z) = O @(x; y; z) h
@(x; y; z)
= x (2.10)
i @y i @y

## ^ x p^y and p^y O

Note that O ^ x applied to a function (x; y; z) give the same result,

no matter what (x; y; z) is. When this happens, we say that the operators

O ^ x are equal:

^ x p^y = p^y O
O ^x

## When two operators satisfy A^B

^=B
^ A,
^ we say that the operators commute.
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 7

## of operators. For example,

!
h
@ h
@ @2
p^2x (x; y; z) p^x p^x(x; y; z) = (x; y; z) = h2 2 (x; y; z)
i @x i @x @x

## I have used above the fact that i2 = 1. Another example is

^ 3 (x; y; z) = O
O ^ 2 (O
^ x (x; y; z)) = O
^ 2 (x) = O
^ x (x2 ) = x3 (x; y; z)
x x x

## commutative. We say that the operators A^ and B

^ commute if A^B
^ =B
^ A
^

for every function . The calculations performed in Eqs. 2.7{2.10 show that

## ^ x do not commute but p^y and O

p^x and O ^ x do.

## called the commutator of two operators:

^ B]
[A; ^ A^B
^B
^ A^ (2.11)

^ B]
The commutator [A; ^ is an operator.

^ is said to be equal to 0 if O
An operator O ^ is identically 0 for every

## function . Two operators A^ and B

^ commute if and only if their commutator
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 8

is equal to 0:

^ B]
[A; ^ = (A^B
^ B
^ A)
^ = A^B
^ B
^ A
^ =0

## for any function .

The commutator [^ ^ x ] can be easily calculated from Eqs. 2.7 and 2.8:
px ; O

^ x ] = p^xO
px ; O
[^ ^ x p^x = h
^x O
(2.12)
i

Because this equality is valid for any function , we can write that

[^ ^x] = h
px ; O

(2.13)
i

Exercise 2.1 In parts (c) and (d), V (x) is a function of x and V^ = V (x).

(a) Calculate [^ ^ x2 ].
px ; O

^ x ].
px; O
(b) Calculate [^

px ; V^ ].
(c) Calculate [^

py ; V^ ].
(d) Calculate [^

(e) Calculate [^
px ; p^y ].

p6x ; p^x ].
(f ) Calculate [^

## Exercise 2.2 Suppose (z) is a function.

QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 9

^ dened by
(a) Is K
Z +1
^
K(x) (x y)(y)dy
1

an operator?

(b) Calculate [^ ^
px; K].

^
(c) Take (z) = exp[(z=)2 ] in part (a) and calculate K(x) for (x) = x

## operators that satisfy the condition

^
A(a ^ + bA
+ b) = aA ^ (2.14)

Here a and b are complex numbers and and are arbitrary functions. An

## ^ x , V^ , p^x , p^y introduced so far are all linear operators

The operators O

^ 2.
(check that this is true). An example of a nonlinear operator is S

## Indeed, if a and b are numbers and and are functions, then

^
S(a + b) = (a + b)2 = a2 2 + b2 2 + 2ab

## If S^ were a linear operator, we would have (see Eq. 2.14)

^
S(a ^ + bS
+ b) = aS ^ = a 2 + b2
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 10

## Exercise 2.3 Test whether the following operators are linear.

Z b
^
A(x) K(y x)(x)dx
a

^ d2 d
B(x) a 2 (x) + b (x)
dx dx
^
C(x) sin((x))

## In classical mechanics, the fundamental dynamical variables of a particle

are: the position vector r = fx; y; zg (in Cartesian coordinates) and the

## momentum vector p = fpx ; py ; pz g, where

dx
px = m
dt
dy
py = m
dt

and
dz
pz = m
dt
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 11

The derivatives with respect to time t are the components of the velocity

## The potential energy V (r) = V (x; y; z) is a function of coordinates. The

kinetic energy
pp p2 + p2y + p2z
= x
2m 2m

## If the system has N particles, the fundamental dynamical variables are

the positions of all particles and the momenta of all particles. The interaction

## energy U is a function of the positions of the particles. The kinetic energy

K is the sum of the kinetic energies of each particle. The total energy is

## are also functions of positions and momenta.

If you know how the positions and the momenta of a classical system

change in time, you know all there is to know about the mechanics of that

system.
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 12

## ^r acts on a function. The components of the operator ^r are the operators

^x, O
O ^ y and O
^ z dened earlier.

The position operator can be easily dened for a system with many par-

ticles. For example, if a system has three particles with classical position

vectors r(1), r(2), and r(3), the position operator for particle 1, with coor-

## dinates x(1); y(1); z(1), is

^r(1)(r(1); r(2); r(3)) = ix(1)(r(1); r(2); r(3)) + jy(1)(r(1); r(2); r(3)) + kz(1)(r(1); r(2); r(3

## r(1)(r(1); r(2); r(3)) (2.1

Here (r(1); r(2); r(3)) (x(1); y(1); z(1); x(2); y(2); z(2); x(3); y(3); z(3))

is an arbitrary function. The operators ^r(2) and ^r(3) that represent the

## positions of the other two particles are dened similarly.

QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 13

## x^(1)(r(1); r(2); r(3)) = x(1)(r(1); r(2); r(3)) (2.17)

Exercise 2.4 Show that in a system with two particles, the operators ^r(1)

## x 11. Potential energy operator. The classical potential energy is a function of

the coordinates of all the particles. If, for a one-particle system, the classical

potential energy is V (r) = V (x; y; z), then the operator V^ representing this

## V^ (r) V (r)(r) (2.18)

We can generalize this to any quantity that depends only on coordinates. The

## rule is very simple: if a classical variable O(r(1); r(2); : : : ; r(N )) is a function

^ corresponding to
of coordinates (but not of momenta), then the operator O

it is

^
O(r(1); r(2); : : : ; r(N )) = O(r(1); r(2); : : : ; r(N))(r(1); r(2); : : : ; r(N))

(2.19)

## x; V^ ] = 0, x^2 V^ (x) = x2 V (x)(x), and [^r; V^ ] = 0.

Exercise 2.5 Show that [^
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 14

## a particle is a vector p = i m vx + j m vy + k m vz . Here m is the mass of

the particle and vx , vy , and vz are the components of the velocity vector:

## py = mvy , pz = mvz are

h
@
p^x (x; y; z) = (x; y; z) (2.20)
i @x
h
@
p^y (x; y; z) = (x; y; z) (2.21)
i @y
h
@
p^z (x; y; z) = (x; y; z) (2.22)
i @z
p
Here h
is Planck's constant, whose value is given in Appendix 1, and i = 1

## In a system having N particles, each particle ` has a momentum p(`)

with components fpx (`); py (`); pz (`)g and a position r(`) with components

fx(`); y(`); z(`)g. For example, the operator corresponding to the y-component

## of the momentum of the third particle (denoted py (3)) is

h
@
p^y (3)(r(1); : : : ; r(N )) = (r(1); : : : ; r(N))
i @y(3)

## x 13. The kinetic energy operator. Classical kinetic energy in a one-particle

QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 15

system is
pp p2x + p2y + p2z
K= = (2.23)
2m 2m

## The kinetic energy operator in Quantum Mechanics is

^ p
^ =p ^ p^2 + p^2y + p^2z
K = x (2.24)
2m 2m

## where p^x, p^y , and p^z are dened by Eqs. 2.20{2.22.

To see what this operator does when applied to a function (r) = (x; y; z),

## I look at p^2x =2m. According to the rule of operator multiplication,

p^2x 1
= p^x (^
px)
2m 2m

The rule says: act rst with p^x and then act with p^x on the result. Using

## Eq. 2.20 for p^x leads to

!
p^2x 1 1 @
h
= p^x (^
px ) = p^x
2m 2m 2m i @x
! !2
1 h
@ h
@ 1 h
@ 2 (x; y; z)
= = (2.25)
2m i @x i @x 2m i @x2

Similarly
!2
p^2y 1 h
@ 2 (x; y; z)
= (2.26)
2m 2m i @y 2

and
!2
p^2z 1 h
@ 2 (x; y; z)
= (2.27)
2m 2m i @z 2
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 16

## Using Eqs. 2.25{2.27 in Eq. 2.24 gives

!
2
^ =h @ 2 @ 2 @ 2
K + 2 + 2 (2.28)
2m @x2 @y @z

The negative sign comes from the relation i2 = 1. I can also use the

denition
@2 @2 @2
+ + (2.29)
@x2 @y 2 @z 2

## of the Lapacian (or Laplace operator) and write

!
2
^ =h 2
h @2 @2 @2
K = + + (2.30)
2m 2m @x2 @y 2 @z 2

with the understanding that such equations are meaningful only when both

## sides act on the same function .

How about systems having many particles? The classical kinetic energy

## of a system with N particles is

N
X p(`) p(`) p(1) p(1) p(N) p(N)
K= = + +
`=1
2m(`) 2m(1) 2m(N )

## The vector p(`) is the momentum of particle `. The corresponding operator

is obtained by using Eq. 2.30 for the kinetic energy of each particle:
N
X
^ = ^ (`) p
p ^ (`)
K
`=1 2m(`)

## It is easy to see that

!
^ 2 X
h N
1 @2 @ 2 @2
K(r(1); : : : ; r(N)) = + + (2.31)
2 `=1 m(`) @x(`)2 @y(`)2 @z(`)2
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 17

x 14. The total energy (the Hamiltonian). In classical mechanics, the total

## energy (or the Hamiltonian)

H =K +V

is the sum of the kinetic energy K and the potential energy V . The operator

^ is
H

^ =K
H ^ + V^ (2.32)

## For an N -particle system,

^
H(r(1); ^
: : : ; r(N )) = K(r(1); : : : ; r(N )) + V^ (r(1); : : : ; r(N))
!
N
X 2
h @ 2 @2 @ 2
= + +
`=1 2m(`) @x(`)2 @y(`)2 @z(`)2
+ V (r(1); : : : ; r(N))(r(1); : : : ; r(N)) (2.33)

## Here V (r(1); : : : ; r(N )) is the classical potential energy of the system.

x 15. Angular momentum. I come now to the last operator that I consider

## here, the angular momentum. In classical mechanics this is dened by

L=rp

I remind you of the rules for calculating the cross product, which can be
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 18

written as a determinant:

i j k

L=rp= x y z (2.34)

px py pz

gives

y z x z x y
L = i
j

+ k

py pz
px pz
px py

and

## Lz = xpy ypx (2.37)

There are all kinds of rules for remembering these equations. I give you

Metiu's rule: remember a book where the equations are written down and

## remember where you put the book.

QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 19

## The operators corresponding to Lx , Ly , Lz are easily found.

!
^ x = (^ @
h h
@ h
@ @
L y p^z z^p^y ) = y z = y z (2.38)
i @z i @y i @z @y

!
^x = h
L

y
@
z
@
(2.39)
i @z @y

!
^y = h
L

z
@
x
@
(2.40)
i @x @z

and
!
^z = h
L
@
x y
@
(2.41)
i @y @x

^2 = L
L ^ 2x + L
^ 2y + L
^ 2z (2.43)

## ^ 2 (x; y; z) by using Eq. 2.43 and Eqs. 2.39{2.41.

Exercise 2.6 Calculate L
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 20

p 2
Exercise 2.7 For r = x + y 2 + z 2 and a a real number, show that (see

WorkBookQM.2.2)

^ z ear = 0
L

^ 2 ear = 0
L

^ z ear z
L = 0

^ 2 ear z
L = 2h2 ear z

z(x + iy)
(x; y; z) =
x2 + y 2 + z 2

then

^z = h
L

and

^ 2 = 6h2
L

## sented by operators. Here is a list of the important ones.

The momentum operator of particle ` with Cartesian coordinates x(`); y(`); z(`)

## is a vector with components

h
@
p^x(`) = (2.44)
i @x(`)
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 21

@
h
p^y (`) = (2.45)
i @y(`)
@
h
p^z (`) = (2.46)
i @z(`)

In a system for which V (r(1); : : : ; r(N)) is the classical potential energy, the

## V^ (r(1); : : : ; r(N)) = V (r(1); : : : ; r(N ))(r(1); : : : ; r(N )) (2.47)

The rule is: multiply by the classical formula V (r(1); : : : ; r(N)) for the

potential energy.

## The total energy (the Hamiltonian) operator is

N
X
^ = ^ p
p ^
H + V^
`=1 2m(`)
!
N
X 2
h @2 @2 @2
= + + + V (r(1); : : : ; r(N )) (2.48)
`=1
2m(`) @x(`)2 @y(`)2 @z(`)2

## The angular momentum operator of particle ` is a vector L with Cartesian

components
!
^ x (`) = h
L

y(`)
@
z(`)
@
(2.49)
i @z(`) @y(`)
!
^ y (`) = h
@ @
L z(`) x(`) (2.50)
i @x(`) @z(`)
!
^ h
@ @
Lz (`) = x(`) y(`) (2.51)
i @y(`) @x(`)

## Angular momentum squared is

^2 = L
L ^2 + L
^2 + L
^2 (2.52)
x y z
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 22

In later chapters, I will explain how these operators are connected to mea-

## A complex number is dened by

z = a + ib(1) (2.53)

where a and b are two real numbers called the real and imaginary parts of z,

respectively, and
p
i= 1 (2.54)

The notations Re(z) and Im(z) are used for the real and imaginary parts of

## z. Obviously i has the property

i2 = 1 (2.55)

Here are the operations you can perform with two complex numbers z1 =

## a1 + ib1 and z2 = a2 + ib2 :

QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 23

## Division of two complex numbers

z1 a1 + ib1 a1 a2 + b1 b2 b1 a2 a1 b2
= = 2 2
+i 2 (2.59)
z2 a2 + ib2 a2 + b2 a2 + b22

z a ib (2.60)

## conjugate of a complicated expression, replace i throughout by i.

QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 24

r
b

q
a

## Polar representation: a complex number z = a + ib can be written in

the form

z = exp[i] (2.61)

## Comparison with z = a + ib gives (see Figure 2.1)

a = cos

b = sin
QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 25

## From these two equations, we easily obtain

p
= + a2 + b2 (2.63)
!
b
= arctan with 0 < 2 (2.64)
a

p
jzj = z z (2.65)

## polar form z = exp[i], then we have

q q
jzj = ( exp[i])( exp[i]) = 2 = jj (2.66)

where jj is the absolute value of the real number . If we use the form

z = a + ib, then

q p p
jzj = (a ib)(a + ib) = a2 + iab iab + b2 = a2 + b2 (2.67)

## x = (2:1 + 0:3i)(3:13 2:1i)

QM 2. Dynamical variables and operators, May 30, 2005 26

y = 3(1:7 2:1i)
2 + 1:3i
m =
3 + 1:1i

ei + ei
cos =
2

and
i h i i
sin = e ei
2

## (e) Use Mathematica to perform these exercises.

x 18. Complex functions of real variables. Now that we know how to per-

## form operations (addition, multiplication, etc.) with complex numbers, we

can dene functions whose argument is a real number and whose value is a

## complex number. An example of such a function is

z = () = exp[i]

with a real number. Since the values of () are complex numbers, you can

handle it according to the rules in x17. For example, the complex conjugate