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Angular Momentum commutation relationships

  1. Apr 23, 2015 #1
    It seems to be implied, but I cant find it explicitly - the order in which linear operators are applied makes a difference. IE given linear operators A,B then AB is NOT necessarily the same as BA ? I thought it was only with rotation operators that the order made a difference?

    I noticed this while looking at text that showed [Lx,Ly] = i(h-bar)Lz, using only position and momentum operators...


    <<mentor note: originally posted in homework forum, template removed>>
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2015 #2

    Orodruin

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    In general, linear operators will not commute. Another common example is the position and momentum operators.
     
  4. Apr 24, 2015 #3
    Thanks - of course, not a clever question when I am studying commutation relationships... But now I might see what was bothering me (I think) - the text expands [Lx,Ly] in terms of position and momentum operators, you get 8 terms like YPzZPx - the last 4 could cancel the 1st 4 out - but only if it was OK to change the order - like ZPxYPz (which is the 1st of the last 4, to complete the example). So are they OK in assuming that the operators don't commute - in order to prove that other operators don't commute?
     
  5. Apr 24, 2015 #4

    Orodruin

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    Yes. You can easily derive the commutation relations for ##P_i## with ##X_i## using the position basis representation ##P_i \to -i\partial_i## and ##X_i \to x^i## and their action on any wave function ##\psi(x)##.
     
  6. Apr 24, 2015 #5

    ChrisVer

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    If they don't commute yes... if they commute, no...
    If they commute, you have to be careful when changing the order -> new terms can be brought in.
    For example if I have [itex] x p_x [/itex] and I want for some calculation to rewrite it in [itex] p_x x[/itex] (because it would come handy) I would have to use the relation:
    [itex][x, p_x ] = x p_x - p_x x= i \hbar \Rightarrow x p_x = p_x x + i \hbar[/itex] and that's with what you change [itex]x p_x[/itex].
     
  7. Apr 28, 2015 #6
    Thanks all
     
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