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DOes the trace determine the Hamiltonian

  1. Mar 27, 2007 #1


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    if we define Z as:

    [tex] Z(s)=Tr[exp(-sH)] [/tex]

    my 2 questions are..

    a) is the trace unique and define the Hamiltonian completely? i mean if

    we have 2 Hamiltonians H and K then [tex] Tr[exp(-sH)]\ne Tr[exp(-sK) [/tex]

    and if we use the 'Semiclassical approach' then [tex] Z(s)=Tr[exp(-sH)]\sim As^{-1/2}\int_{-\infty}^{\infty}dx exp(-sV(x)) [/tex]

    then given Z(s) we could calculate approximately V(x) by solving an integral equation.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2007 #2
    1 + 2 + 3 = 6
    2 + 2 + 2 = 6

    Both of these could be the diagonal elements of a hamiltonian. Clearly the trace alone is not sufficient to categorize the entire hamiltonian. You get no information about the off-diagonal elements, too, which is relevant since you have not necessarily taken the trace in a basis which diagonalizes the hamiltonian.
  4. Mar 27, 2007 #3


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    As Statmechguy points out, the trace isn't sufficient to know the hamiltonian. However, the function Z(s), being a function of s, will allow you (by derivatives for instance) to find all individual diagonal elements of H.
  5. Mar 28, 2007 #4


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    Well..since the trace is just the sum of 'Eigenvalues' of a Hamiltonian, considering every Hamiltonian has an infinite number of 'energies'.. perhaps the trace is unique (in this case since Statsmechguay has only pointed a finite-dimensional case), could it Happen that both H and K had the same energies but different potential V(x) ??
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