What is Perturbation theory: Definition and 261 Discussions

In mathematics, physics, and chemistry, perturbation theory comprises mathematical methods for finding an approximate solution to a problem, by starting from the exact solution of a related, simpler problem. A critical feature of the technique is a middle step that breaks the problem into "solvable" and "perturbative" parts. In perturbation theory, the solution is expressed as a power series in a small parameter


{\displaystyle \epsilon }
. The first term is the known solution to the solvable problem. Successive terms in the series at higher powers of


{\displaystyle \epsilon }
usually become smaller. An approximate 'perturbation solution' is obtained by truncating the series, usually by keeping only the first two terms, the solution to the known problem and the 'first order' perturbation correction.
Perturbation theory is used in a wide range of fields, and reaches its most sophisticated and advanced forms in quantum field theory. Perturbation theory (quantum mechanics) describes the use of this method in quantum mechanics. The field in general remains actively and heavily researched across multiple disciplines.

View More On Wikipedia.org
  1. H

    Derive Lorentz transformations in perturbation theory

    I've arrived to an expected answer, but I am not sure at all that the process was what the problem statement wants. First, I considered ##0=(t+\delta t)^2-(x+vt)^2-(t^2-x^2) \approx 2t \delta t - 2xvt - v^2t^2##. Ignoring ##O(v^2)## gives ##\delta t=vx##, i.e., ##t \rightarrow t+vx##. Keeping...
  2. P

    I Confusion about Scattering in Quantum Electrodynamics

    When it comes to scattering in QED it seems only scattering cross sections and decay rates are calculated. Why is that does anyone calculate the actual evolution of the field states or operators themselves like how the particles and fields evolve throughout a scattering process not just...
  3. Junaidjami

    A Real vs complex spherical harmonics for hexagonal symmetry

    Are real spherical harmonics better than complex spherical harmonics for hexagonal symmetry, which are directly associated to a finite Lz?
  4. H

    How to find the eigenvector for a perturbated Hamiltonian?

    Hi, I have to find the eigenvalue (first order) and eigenvector (0 order) for the first and second excited state (degenerate) for a perturbated hamiltonian. However, I don't see how to find the eigenvectors. To find the eigenvalues for the first excited state I build this matrix ##...
  5. B

    A Time dependent perturbation theory applied to energy levels

    Hello! I am reading this paper and in deriving equations 6/7 and 11/12 they claim to use second oder time dependent perturbation theory (TDPT) in order to get the correction to the energy levels. Can someone point me towards some reading about that? In the QM textbooks I used, for TDPT they just...
  6. dextercioby

    A First order electroweak correction to the g-2 magnetic moment

    We know that we need to go to 5th order in perturbation theory to match 10 decimals of g-2 for electron, theory vs. experiment. But let us not assume QED is pure and independent, but it's a lower energy limit of GSW (not Green-Schwartz-Witten from superstrings) electroweak theory. Has anyone...
  7. K

    I More doubts in perturbation theory

    Townsend, quantum mechanics " In our earlier derivation we assumed that each unperturbed eigenstate ##\left|\varphi_{n}^{(0)}\right\rangle## turns smoothly into the exact eigenstate ##\left|\psi_{n}\right\rangle## as we turn on the perturbing Hamiltonian. However, if there are ##N## states ##...
  8. K

    I Doubt in understanding degenerate perturbation theory

    McIntyre, quantum mechanics,pg360 Suppose states ##\left|2^{(0)}\right\rangle## and ##\left|3^{(0)}\right\rangle## are degenerate eigenstates of unperturbed Hamiltonian ##H## Author writes: "The first-order perturbation equation we want to solve is ##...
  9. Samama Fahim

    I Time Dependent Sinusoidal Perturbation Energy Conservation

    The transition probability -- the probability that a particle which started out in the state ##\psi_a## will be found, at time ##t##, in the state ##\psi_b## -- is $$P_{a \to b} = \frac{|V_{ab}|}{\hbar^2} \frac{sin^2[(\omega_0 - \omega)t/2]}{(\omega_0 - \omega^2}.$$ (Griffiths, Introduction...
  10. ThiagoSantos

    Diagonalizing q1ˆ3q2ˆ3 with Degenerate Perturbation Theory

    I tried to use the degenerated perturbation theory but I'm having problems when it comes to diagonalizing the perturbation q1ˆ3q2ˆ3 which I think I need to find the first order correction.
  11. Kaguro

    A Degenerate Perturbation Theory: Correction to the eigenstates

    Given the unperturbed Hamiltonian ##H^0## and a small perturbating potential V. We have solved the original problem and have gotten a set of eigenvectors and eigenvalues of ##H^0##, and, say, two are degenerate: $$ H^0 \ket a = E^0 \ket a$$ $$ H^0 \ket b = E^0 \ket b$$ Let's make them...
  12. M

    I How are good quantum numbers related to perturbation theory?

    Hello folks, I am currently studying from Griffiths' Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and I've got a doubt about good quantum numbers that the text has been unable to solve. As I understand it, good quantum numbers are the eigenvalues of the eigenvectors of an operator O that remain...
  13. ooleonardoo

    Perturbation Theory: Calculating 1st-Order Correction

    Of course, this question consisted of two parts. In the first part, we needed to calculate the first-order correction. It was easy. In all the books on quantum mechanics I saw, only first-order examples have been solved. So I really do not know how to solve it. Please explain the solution method...
  14. dRic2

    Time dependent perturbation theory (Berry phase)

    If I plug the solution into the Schrodinger equation I get $$(i \hbar \partial_t - H)\ket{\psi} = 0$$ Since I know that the zeroth-order expansion is lambda is already a solution I think this is equal to $$(i \hbar \partial_t - H)e^{i\phi} e^{-i\gamma}\ket{\delta n} = 0$$ If now I carry on with...
  15. S

    I The “philosophical cornerstone” of the Moller-Plesset perturbation theory

    In quantum chemistry, the MP rows (MP2, MP3, MP4, etc) can converge both quickly and slowly, and for some cases (e.g. CeI4 molecule) they even diverge instead of converging. My question is quite philosophic: what is the “mathematical cornerstone”, or “philosophical cornerstone” of the...
  16. Viona

    Time-dependent Perturbation Theory

    I was reading in the Book: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by David J. Griffiths. In chapter Time-Dependent Perturbation Theory, Section 9.12. I could not understand that why he put the first order correction ca(1)(t)=1 while it equals a constant.
  17. T

    A QFT with vanishing vacuum expectation value and perturbation theory

    In This wikipedia article is said: "If the quantum field theory can be accurately described through perturbation theory, then the properties of the vacuum are analogous to the properties of the ground state of a quantum mechanical harmonic oscillator, or more accurately, the ground state of a...
  18. M

    I Energy shifts in time dependent perturbation theory

    Hello! I saw in many papers people talking about the effects of a time dependent perturbation (usually an oscillating E or B field) on the energy levels of an atom or molecule (for now let's assume this is a 2 level system). Taking about energy makes sense when the hamiltonian is time...
  19. A

    I Perturbation theory with two parameters?

    Hello, I am looking for a reference which describe perturbation theory with two parameters instead of one. So far, I did not find anything on the topic. It might have a specific name and I am using the wrong keywords. Any help is appreciated. To be clear, I mean I have ##H =...
  20. A

    Solving QM Problem: Fermi's Golden Rule & Transitional Probability

    Hello all, I would like some guidance on how to approach/solve the following QM problem. My thinking is that Fermi's Golden Rule would be used to find the transitional probability. I write down that the time-dependent wavefunction for the free particle is...
  21. mcas

    Perturbation theory and the secualr equation for double degeneration

    I've been assigned to do a problem from Landau which you can read below: I have no problem with finding the energy. Then I write down the equations: \begin{equation*} \begin{cases} (V_{11}-E^{(1)})|c_1|e^{i\alpha_1} + V_{21}e^{i\alpha_2}|c_2| = 0\\ V_{12}e^{i\alpha_1}|c_1| +...
  22. M

    Degenerate perturbation theory

    $$ W_{n,n} = \int_0^{2 \pi} \frac{1}{\sqrt{2 \pi}} e^{-inx} V_0 \cos(x) \frac{1}{\sqrt{2 \pi}} e^{inx} dx $$ $$ = 0 $$ $$ W_{n, -n} = \int_0^{2 \pi} \frac{1}{\sqrt{2 \pi}} e^{-inx} V_0 \cos(x) \frac{1}{\sqrt{2 \pi}} e^{-inx} dx $$ $$ = \frac{a n ( \sin(4 \pi n) + i \cos( 4 \pi n) - i...
  23. hilbert2

    A Softened potential well / potential step

    Do any of you know of an article or book chapter that discusses the difference between a discontinuous potential well of length ##2L## ##V(x)=\left\{\begin{array}{cc}0, & |x-x_0 |<L\\V_0 & |x-x_0 |\geq L\end{array}\right.## and a differentiable one ##\displaystyle V(x) = V_0...
  24. M

    I Confused about perturbation theory

    Hello! Let's say we have 2 states of fixed parity ##| + \rangle## and ##| - \rangle## with energies ##E_+## and ##E_-## and we have a P-odd perturbing hamiltonian (on top of the original hamiltonian, ##H_0## whose eigenfunctions are the 2 above), ##V_P##. According to 1st order perturbation...
  25. A

    I Perturbation Theory and Zeeman Splitting

    Suppose we have a hamiltonian $$H_0$$ and we know the eigenvectors/values: $$H_0 |E_i \rangle = E_i|E_i \rangle $$ We then add to it another perturbing Hamiltonian: $$H’$$ which commutes with $$H_0.$$ According to nondegenerate first order perturbation theory: $$\langle H \rangle \approx...
  26. Z

    Perturbation Theory - expressing the perturbation

    Hi, I just need someone to check if I am on the right track here Below is a mutual Coulomb potential energy between the electron and proton in a hydrogen atom which is the perturbed system: ##V(x) = \begin{cases} - \frac{e^{2}}{4\pi\epsilon_{0}}\frac{b}{r^{2}} \text{for } 0<r \leq 0 \\ -...
  27. Phylosopher

    I Why perturbation theory uses power series?

    I am revising perturbation theory from Griffiths introduction to quantum mechanics. Griffiths uses power series to represent the perturbation in the system due to small change in the Hamiltonian. But I see no justification for it! Other than the fact that it works. I searched on the internet a...
  28. electrogeek

    I 2nd Order Perturbation Theory Energy Correction

    Hi everyone, I'm struggling with the proof for the second order energy correction for perturbation theory when substituting in the first order wavefunction. I have attached an image of my current proof for it below, but I'm not sure whether this is the correct approach for it (the H's in the...
  29. C

    I Definition of a Degenerate Subspace (QM)

    I was learning about Degenerate Perturbation Theory and I encountered the term 'Degenerate Subspace', I didn't really understand what it meant so I came here to ask - what does it mean? will it matter if i'll say 'Degenerate space' instead of 'Degenerate Subspace'? and subspace of what? (...
  30. G

    I Confused by Notation? Perturbation Theory Explained

    Looking at. <psi|AB|theta>, under what conditions would this be equal to <psi|A|theta> * <psi|B|theta> I’m just getting into perturbation theory and am running into confusing notation. Thanks john
  31. tomdodd4598

    I Fermi's Golden Rule and the S-matrix

    Hey there, This question was asked elsewhere, but I wasn't really satisfied with the answer. When I learned about Fermi's golden rule, ##{ \Gamma }_{ if }=2\pi { \left| \left< { f }|{ \delta V }|{ i } \right> \right| }^{ 2 }\rho \left( { E }_{ f } \right)##, it was derived from first order...
  32. JuanC97

    I Do 4-divergences affect the eqs of motion for nth order perturbed fields?

    Intuitively, I'd say that adding a 4-divergence to the Lagrangian should not affect the eqs of motion since the integral of that 4-divergence (of a vector that vanishes at ∞) can be rewritten as a surface term equal to zero, but... In some theories, the addition of a term that is equal to zero...
  33. Diracobama2181

    Selection Rules (Time Dependent Perturbation Theory)

    I suppose my question is, since X commutes for H, does this mean that the selection rules are $$<n',l',m'|X|n,l,m>=0$$ unless $$l'=l\pm 1$$ and $$m'=m\pm 1$$, as specified in Shankar?
  34. Baibhab Bose

    Infinitesimal Perturbation in a potential well

    If I calculate ## <\psi^0|\epsilon|\psi^0>## and ## <\psi^0|-\epsilon|\psi^0>## separately and then add, the correction seems to be 0 since ##\epsilon## is a constant perturbation term. SO how should I approach this? And how the Δ is relevant in this calculation?
  35. D

    QFT for Gifted Amateur - Problem 2.2

    I'm getting confused by the perturbation theory aspect of problem 2.2 in this book. We have to show that the energy eigenvalues are given by $$E_n = \left(n + \frac{1}{2}\right) \hbar \omega + \frac{3\lambda}{4} \left(\frac{\hbar}{m\omega}\right)^2 (2n^2 + 2n + 1)$$ For the Hamiltonian...
  36. Robin04

    Perturbation theory for solving a second-order ODE

    I have to solve the equation above. I haven't heard about an exact method so I tried to apply perturbation theory. I don't know much about it so I would like to ask for some help. First I put an ##\epsilon## in the coefficient of the non-linear ##\xi^2(t)## term: ##\ddot{\xi}(t)=-b\xi...
  37. M

    I Time independent perturbation theory in atom excitation

    Hello! In Griffiths chapter on Time independent perturbation theory, he has a problem (9.20) in which he asks us to calculate the first order contribution to the electron Hamiltonian in an atom if one takes into account the magnetic dipole/electric quadrupole excitations, beside the electric...
  38. astrocytosis

    Darwin term in a hydrogen atom - evaluating expectation values

    Homework Statement Homework Equations VD= -1/(8m2c2) [pi,[pi,Vc(r)]] VC(r) = -Ze2/r Energy shift Δ = <nlm|VD|nlm> The Attempt at a Solution I can't figure out how to evaluate the expectation values that result from the Δ equation. When I do out the commutator, I get p2V-2pVp+Vp2. This...
  39. V

    Gauge invariance in GR perturbation theory

    I have been following [this video lecture][1] on how to find gauge invariance when studying the perturbation of the metric. Something is unclear when we try to find fake vs. real perturbation of the metric. We use an arbitrary small vector field to have the effect of a chart transition map or...
  40. N

    A Perturbation solution and the Dirac equation

    I'd like to know how to solve the dirac equation with some small gauge potential $\epsilon \gamma^\mu{A}_\mu(x)$ by applying perturbation theory. The equations reads as $$(\gamma^\mu\partial_\mu-m+\epsilon\gamma^\mu A_\mu(x))\psi(x) = 0.$$ The solution up to first order is $$ \psi(x) =...
  41. BeyondBelief96

    2nd Order Non-Degenerate TI Perturbation Theory Corrections

    Homework Statement Show that the 2nd order nondegenerate perturbation theory corrections are given by: ##E_n^2 = \sum_{k \neq n}^{\infty} \frac{|\left < \phi_n | \hat{H} | \phi_k \right> |^2}{E_n^0 - E_k^0}##[/B] and ## C_{nm}^2 = \frac{C_{nm}^1 E_n^1 - \sum_{k \neq n}^{\infty} C_{nk}^1...
  42. C

    Spring with oscillating support (Goldstein problem 11.2)

    Homework Statement A point mass m hangs at one end of a vertically hung hooke-like spring of force constant k. The other end of the spring is oscillated up and down according to ##z=a\cos(w_1t)##. By treating a as a small quantity, obtain a first-order solution to the motion of m in time...
  43. W

    B Time independent perturbation theory

    This isn't explained anywhere so it must be super basic and I'll probably kick myself for not getting it, but on the wiki page for time independent perturbation theory, section 3.1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perturbation_theory_(quantum_mechanics) It talks about first order corrections and...
  44. N

    A TD perturbation - state initially in continuous part

    Hi everyone, I am doing a time dependent perturbation theory, in a case when the electron is prepared in a state of the continuous part of the energy spectrum. Existence of the discrete part and the degeneracy of the continuous part is irrelevant at the moment and will not be considered...
  45. E

    First order perturbation energy correction to H-like atom

    Homework Statement Real atomic nuclei are not point charges, but can be approximated as a spherical distribution with radius ##R##, giving the potential $$ \phi(r) = \begin{cases} \frac{Ze}{R}(\frac{3}{2}-\frac{1}{2}\frac{r^2}{R^2}) &\quad r<R\\ \frac{Ze}{r} &\quad r>R \\...
  46. JuanC97

    I Restrictions of 1st Order Perturbation Theory

    Hello guys, I'm wondering if there are some important restrctions on the 'applicability' of first order perturbation theory. I know there's a way to deduce Schwarzschild's solution to Einstein's field equations that assummes one can decompose the 4D metric ##g_{\mu\nu}## as Minkowski...
  47. S

    I Degenerate Perturbation Theory

    Hello! I am reading Griffiths and I reached the Degenerate Time Independent Perturbation Theory. When calculating the first correction to the energy, he talks about "good" states, which are the orthogonal degenerate states to which the system returns, once the perturbation is gone. I understand...
  48. Riotto

    I Perturbative versus nonperturbative quantum mechanics

    What is the nonperturbative approach to quantum mechanics as opposed to perturbative one? When does the latter method fail and one has to apply nonperturbative approach? Please keep your discussion confined within non-relativistic quantum mechanics.
  49. Warda Anis

    Perturbation for Yukawa Potential

    Homework Statement The photon is normally assumed to have zero rest mass. If the photon did have a tiny mass, this would alter the potential energy the electron feels in the hydrogen atom (due to the Coulomb interaction with the proton). The potential then becomes yukawa potential...