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Good Textbook for QM?

  1. Jun 2, 2008 #1
    I was wondering what the equivalent of "Halliday and Resnick" was for Quantum Mechanics. Truthfully, I don't have much experience with quantum mechanics, apart from

    - Construction of the Schrodinger Equation (in one dimension, but extending to 3 shouldn't be that difficult... just change the double partial diff. with respect to x to a laplacian, etc.)

    - Somewhat okay-ish understanding of how to solve the Schrodinger Equation in a finite/infinite square well situation

    Particularly, how good is the following book: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 2nd Edition (Griffiths)

    I am going to be a freshman this fall of 2008 in college, and was wondering how good this book was for QM.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2008 #2


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    I haven't read that book, but I really like Sakurai's "Modern quantum mechanics".

    You should probably also study just a little bit of linear algebra on your own if you're going to start with Sakurai. You need some understand of vector spaces, basis vectors, linear functions (often called linear transformations in math books and linear operators in QM books), matrices, and the relationship between linear operators and matrices.

    Oh yeah, and I think everyone should read Feynman's "QED: The strange theory of light and matter". No math needed for that one.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2008
  4. Jun 2, 2008 #3
  5. Jun 2, 2008 #4
    Griffiths is one of the standard QM texts for the Undergraduate QM 1 and QM 2 courses. It's a comprehensive text that starts from the very beginning. The first part of the text deals with exact solutions of the Schrodingers equation for various situations (free particle, infinite/finite square wells, delta potentials, and the 3 dimensional versions of delta potentials, cubic wells, etc. along with exact solutions of the idealized hydrogen atom.)

    The second part of the text deals with approximation methods to deal with slightly more realistic situations that cause difficulties in obtaining exact solutions to the SE.

    The course ideally would be taught with knowledge of solutions of PDEs (an introductory course in PDEs that includes at the very very least method of separation of variables), linear algebra with a somewhat formed abstract view of vector spaces (finite and infinite dimensional), calculus (obvious), and even some real analysis, though chances are the study of Hilbert spaces through real analysis will come after their use in QM.

    Most of the tools that Griffiths deals with are taught to the reader such that even if your background is weak or incomplete in these areas, you can get by without having to reference portions of the above mentioned material. This is useful because math texts give you the whole hoopla starting with theorem #1, where as Griffiths gives you the QM lite version.

    Good luck. Hope this helps.

    PS. The "Halliday and Resnick" version of textbook ceases to be after 2nd year physics. The fancy photographs, and superfluous comments are largely left out in favor of conciseness (say more with less). Griffiths is very much a synthesis of something like V.I. Arnold's text on Classical Mechanics and Halliday and Resnick.. he tries to be as concise as possible without leaving too much to the reader to have to figure out.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2008
  6. Jun 2, 2008 #5
    Exactly. In fact its the graduate text for QM used at MIT.

    For an undergrad text Introductory Quantum Mechanics (4th Edition) by Richard Liboff seems okay.

  7. Jun 2, 2008 #6


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    Graduate? As in "for Ph.D. students"? It was the book we used in my second course about QM, but when I read it I was really wondering why we didn't use it in the first one. It did a much better job of explaining the basic stuff than the book I read before.

    Now that I think about it, there are a couple of things missing from Sakurai that I think should be included in a first book about QM: Basic stuff about Fourier transforms and about solutions of the Schrödinger equation.

    So, I'll stick by my recommendation of Sakurai, but it might be a good idea to get one more book.
  8. Jun 3, 2008 #7


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    Fredrik, in the states they have a different system then we in sweden do. We also had Sakurai as second QM course book, and I think it is a really great book! (exept for the quite ugly notation sometimes).

    Solution to the Shrödinger eq is in the appendix of my Sakurai book, and fourier transforms should not be included in a physics textbook on this level, in my opition
  9. Jun 3, 2008 #8

    Andy Resnick

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    We used Eisberg and Resnick in undergrad, Liboff for the 400-level grad and Cohen-Tannoudji for the 600-level grad courses.

    Of those three, I think Liboff is the worst- not simple enough for an introduction, not comprehensive enough for advanced topics.
  10. Jun 3, 2008 #9


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    I definitely agree that Sakurai is not the best text at the undergraduate level. Most universities here in the US (except for a few) do not use this text as the starting undergraduate QM text. That's like giving Jackson to someone starting undergraduate E&M class.

    I would definitely recommend Griffith for a QM text. Or find Anderson's Intro to Modern Physics text. Despite its name, it is one of the few intro physics texts that has a detailed treatment (for this level) of (i) variational methods and (ii) matrix diagonalization/unitary transforms of eigenvectors.

  11. Jun 3, 2008 #10
    This is the best book on QM ever written

    At university I got this book from the library and learned QM from it. The book we were supposed to learn QM from was i.m.o. not good at all. That book was similar to most other QM books in which QM was explained intuitively at first via wave equations and then the theory was build up gradually. Only half way into the book you would find the rigorous formulation.

    I had already studied QM a bit in high school, so I was not really motivated to go that route. I wanted to learn the real stuff right from the start. Because we do linear algebra also in the first semester of the first year, Dirac's book was quite easy to understand.

    My opinion about learning (and teaching) is that if you have to learn something anyway, you may just as well go on with it and not waste your time on historical introductions that are often very misleading. You end up to having to "unlearn" some of the misleading stuff later on.
  12. Jun 3, 2008 #11


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  13. Jun 3, 2008 #12
    According to the reviews this looks like a modern version of Dirac's book. Dirac notation introduced from the beginning and no time wasted on historical developments leading to QM. So, looks like a very good book to me :approve:
  14. Jun 3, 2008 #13
    I really couldn't believe that people rec'd Sakurai to a high school student/freshman (he's in the summer limbo in between high school and college). Oh golly do you people even read the OP before replying?

    Please Domnu, ignore everyone else but Daverz. Upper level undergrad and elementary grad level books will focus too much on the math, and that is because they presume that you have had previous exposure to the conceptual foundations. Understanding the concepts is more important than just being able to calculate probabilities and expectation values.

    The value in getting an introductory text is that you'll gain insight into the overarching picture that will give meaning to the math that you'll see in more advanced classes. And even an easy book like Griffiths is not an appropriate textbook for a freshman, let alone someone that's not even a freshman yet.

    And if you haven't done it yet, it's worthwhile to study optics before studying quantum mechanics. The reason is that particles exhibit light like properties, and having a handle on those properties from a classical p.o.v. first will make understanding the quantum features by analogy easier.
  15. Jun 3, 2008 #14
  16. Jun 3, 2008 #15
    David, he already knows Laplacians and partials so he is no ordinary "pre-freshmen".

    QM by Griffiths is a book for juniors (3rd years). However, it is rather elementary and is more suitable for sophmores (2nd years). You could technically use it before freshmen, seeing as you already have some experience with QM and math (you know what a Laplacian is). The only downside is there are no solutions to it, so while you will learn a lot you won't be able to do problems which are hard. But if you do get it, only do the first 2 chapters. You don't need all the other stuff for the moment.

    Resnick and Halliday have a Modern Physics section, you can check that over too. I've heard Sakurai is pretty advanced, so you should stay away from it. Its a grad book.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2008
  17. Jun 3, 2008 #16
    Fredrik, if you are looking for a very comprehensive book, you might be interested in the 2 volume "Quantum Mechanics" by Cohen-Tannoudji. I can't tell you from personal experience (I'm just a would-be-hobby-physicist, and at the moment I'm just trying do get a better understanding of classical mechanics, QM is still way to difficult for me) but I have been lurking for some time in a german physics group and several people there recommended it.

    However, I would not recommend it to the threadstarter, it seems to be more of a graduate level book, furthermore people complained that it does not include answers to the problems (big turn off for me)

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2008
  18. Jun 5, 2008 #17
    Griffiths is a pretty good starting point and based on what you just said, you probably already know the first chapter or two.
    Shankar would be at the top of the list too.
    Dirac is pretty nice, but it's a bit comprehensive at the start. Now that I've read other books, Dirac's book is appealing, but I'm not sure how much you'd like it as a first textbook.
    Quantum Mechanics by Landau and Lif****z is good as well, but somewhat dense; it's a good reference, though.
    Judging by what you say you know, you probably won't have much difficulty with Griffiths. If you know basic linear algebra and are confident with your calculus, you should be good with Shankar too.
  19. Jun 5, 2008 #18
    Just curious, why the ****s ?
  20. Jun 5, 2008 #19
    Combinations of letters that read like words like the F-word or the waste products you dump in the toilet are blocked out. A very stupid measure for a moderated forum on which people discuss physics and anything that is off topic is removed :yuck:
  21. Jun 5, 2008 #20
    thanx for clearing this up for me...lol
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