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A Good Book on Quantum Mechanics?

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wavering
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Can anybody recommend a book on Quantum Mechanics which satisfies the following criteria:

1. It is written by a real expert in the field
2. It is modern (ie no more than a couple of years old)
3. It is readable
4. Aimed at somebody with an undergraduate degree in physics but somewhat rusty!

Many thanks!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
malawi_glenn
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Ballentine's book
 
  • #3
wavering
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Ballentine's book
I assume that this is it:

"Quantum Mechanics: A Modern Development (Paperback) by Leslie E. Ballentine"

I note it was published ten years ago - has anything fundamental changed in those ten years or is this up to date enough?
 
  • #4
malawi_glenn
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What is your aim in studying Quantum mechanics?

It physical properties? Or its philosophical properties?

Quantum mechanics is really really old, and if one want's to learn the basics, both about Copenhagen interpretation and Bohm - interpretation, older books are just fine. QM is not a subject that changes much nowadays. All theorems and formalism are from the 1920's so it doesen't matter if you get a book from the 60's of 2005.

If you instead wanted a book on nanophysics or string theory, then date matters more since those are areas of extensive and active research today.

Other options are Sakurai's Modern Quantum mechanics, Shankar's Principles of Quantum Mechanics or Quantum Mechanics: Concepts and Applications by Zettili.

Personally I have used Sakurai mostly, and I like the others too. But all of these books are quite pragmatic, they are for the working physicist - not in first hand the philosophical thinking physicist. That is why you should specify your aim with this Quantum Mechanics book.
 
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  • #6
jtbell
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Moved to the Science Book forum. Note that there have been many threads in this forum about QM books. Searching for them will turn up some recommendations.
 
  • #7
wavering
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What is your aim in studying Quantum mechanics?
I have just read John Gribbin's "In search of Schrodinger's cat" which was written in 1980 and have a few questions and observations i thought I may make on this board or elsewhere but did not wish to do so until I had a modern take.

Maybe I will just do a post and risk ridicule ...
 
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  • #9
Fredrik
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I used to recommend Sakurai before I knew that Ballentine's book existed, but people here thought I was nuts for recommending a "graduate" book. Ballentine is at roughly the same level as Sakurai, but it's a better book. It's definitely not too old. Sakurai is much older and it's still the standard text at the university where I studied this stuff. I don't know why Ballentine hasn't replaced Sakurai to a greater extent. Maybe it's too new.

I'm curious about Dirac's book. I haven't read it myself, but a lot of people seem to really like it. E.g. in the book "Quantum Gravity", Carlo Rovelli writes "Textbooks on quantum theory are numerous. I think the best of all is the first of them: Dirac [148], because of Dirac's crystal-clear thinking."

Is Dirac's book a good introductory text, or should it be considered a "graduate" book, like Sakurai or Ballentine?

(The term "graduate" seems to have a different meaning to people in the U.S.A. than to us Swedes. We use it about stuff you'd study in your fifth year at the university, not about stuff you'd study in your third year (like Sakurai)).
 
  • #10
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Is Dirac's book a good introductory text, or should it be considered a "graduate" book, like Sakurai or Ballentine?.
As I said, it was my introductory text. However, by the time I read it, I already had a master's degree in math and I had focused my studies on linear operators in Banach space. This meant that I had no learning curve in understanding many of the concepts and notation that might be new material to undergraduates. Dirac has a talent for making things clear.
 
  • #11
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I learned very elementary quantum mechanics at high school. Nothing more than the wave-equation, square well energy levels and how tunneling is explained, etc. At university we were give the book by Bransden and Joachain to study from. But when I looked at that book, I thought that I already know most of what is written in the first few hundred pages, except that I lack practice solving problems.

I wanted to learn the formalism of quantum mechanics right from the start, so what I did was lend Dirac's book from the library and learn the theory from that book. I did the homework exercises we were supposed to do from the book by Bransden.
 
  • #12
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Dirac's book is not a graduate level book. I'm actually not sure what students would still have to learn about quantum mechanics at the "graduate level".


A good book for the upper level undergraduate students could be this book:


https://www.amazon.com/dp/0201410346/?tag=pfamazon01-20
 
  • #13
dx
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Is Dirac's book a good introductory text, or should it be considered a "graduate" book, like Sakurai or Ballentine?
Dirac's book can be considered an introductory text for a sophisticated reader who already has a good knowledge of advanced classical physics, i.e. it would not be a suitable introduction for most undergraduates.
 
  • #14
wavering
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... QM is an old theory by now.
I thought that in the last 20/30 years there may be new ways of looking at QM eg Emergent Properties and Information Theory and things I have never heard of ...?
 
  • #15
malawi_glenn
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I thought that in the last 20/30 years there may be new ways of looking at QM eg Emergent Properties and Information Theory and things I have never heard of ...?
Well, that can be considered Applications of QM, but I don't think there is any book that cover ALL applications of QM. Maybe 2 or 3 books will cover the most.
 

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