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Intro to QM Text

  1. Jul 29, 2013 #1
    What is the best intro to QM?

    I was settled on Griffiths, but it seems there are only two kinds of people in this world, those who recommenced Griffiths, and those who strongly don't recommended it.

    I'll give a bit of background, so I can get the best possible recommendations.

    I'm still in the process of learning intermediate classical mechanics (Taylor along side with Morin), and I'm also in the middle of Griffiths's Intro to EM. I've done some linear algebra in the past, enough to the point where I think I should be alright with the math in any undergrad QM text.

    Many of the complaints with Griffiths is that he's too casual, too sloppy and the text doesn't really prepare you adequately for the next level graduate text. Those who recommend him say that it's clear, "exciting", and generally very good for self-study.

    I've also seen a lot of people recommending Dirac, which seems odd, wasn't it written back when dinosaurs walked the earth?! o_O

    Griffiths has the most reviews, and the majority are positive, so I'll probably end up going with that, but I'm interested in hearing the opinions of others.
     
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  3. Jul 29, 2013 #2

    vanhees71

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    I don't know Griffths's text. For sure, Dirac's book is one of the first and at the same time the best books on QM ever written. I'd not recommend it, however, to begin with. My favorite is J. J. Sakurai, Modern Quantum Mechanics to get a basis and then Ballentine, Quantum Mechanics, A modern development for the interpretation. For advanced studies I also highly recommend the brand new book by Steven Weinberg, which is marvelous as all his textbooks.
     
  4. Jul 29, 2013 #3

    verty

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    Look at past threads, this is a VERY common question.
     
  5. Jul 29, 2013 #4

    WannabeNewton

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    Griffiths butchers the math worse than Aragorn butchers the messenger in Return of the King. I still don't get how people can tolerate that book.
     
  6. Jul 29, 2013 #5

    atyy

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    The cat climbing the raising operators is priceless.

    I haven't read Griffiths, but surely his butchering is standard physics butchering?
     
  7. Jul 29, 2013 #6

    WannabeNewton

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    Lol. Certainly the ladder operator cat is the biggest selling point of the book, I would have to agree.
     
  8. Jul 29, 2013 #7

    dextercioby

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    While I usually agree with Hendrik's opinions built on his vast expertise with physics books, I would have to refrain myself from endorsing his reccomendation of Sakurai's text as an introduction to QM, i.e. to someone who's had no experience with QM.

    OTOH, I completely hate introductory texts altogether so I'd be a hypocrite to reccomend one. As verty said, it's probably the most common question in the books section of the forum.
     
  9. Jul 29, 2013 #8
    I've read through a lot of book reviews and form posts on PF, nobody can seem to agree on anything here, it seems that there's a wealth of QM material, but none of them are all that great.

    I've seen several people mention Landau as an option as well.

    So here are the choices I'm considering:

    https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Mechanics-A-Modern-Development/dp/9810241054 - Ballentine

    https://www.amazon.com/Principles-Quantum-Mechanics-2nd-Edition/dp/0306447908 - Shankar

    https://www.amazon.com/Modern-Quantum-Mechanics-2nd-Sakurai/dp/0805382917/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358654695&sr=1-1&tag=vglnk-c905-20 - Sakurai

    https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Mechanics-Applications-Nouredine-Zettili/dp/0470026790/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_p?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1311000942&sr=1-1&tag=vglnk-c905-20 - Zettilli

    https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Mechanics-Non-Relativistic-Theory-Edition/dp/0750635398/ref=pd_sim_b_2 - L&L

    https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Quantum-Mechanics-2nd-Edition/dp/0131118927/ref=pd_sim_b_1 - Griffiths

    I generally have a difficult time picking out text books because I like to buy the physical text book (I know there are "other" ways of obtaining them, of which I am also guilty:shy:), it's just a lot easier to read and use than a computer version. I'm not a fan of spending large sums of money on 2-3 different text books for the same subject.

    The most common text by far seems to be Griffiths, with Shankar and Sakurai coming in about tied for second.
     
  10. Jul 29, 2013 #9

    WannabeNewton

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    I think Ballentine might be biting off a bit more than you can chew at the present. As dexter's signature says, never learn math from a physics book meaning it's good to have learnt the functional analysis used in Ballentine beforehand from an actual math book. Out of all the ones you mentioned, I would personally recommend Zettilli for an introduction.
     
  11. Jul 29, 2013 #10
    You're not limited to recommending a text out of the ones I listed.

    I've seen a lot of positive things about Zettili, so I'm leaning towards that one.
     
  12. Jul 29, 2013 #11

    George Jones

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    Zettili is great for seeing how calculations are done, but it is somewhat weak conceptually, and it omits completely some of the most exciting material in modern quantum theory, i.e., quantum entanglement and the EPR paradox and Bell's theorem etc.
     
  13. Jul 29, 2013 #12
    -_- This is exactly what I was talking about.

    Maybe I need to pick TWO books?
     
  14. Jul 29, 2013 #13
    It kind of sounds like you are teaching this material to yourself. In that case, I would recommend Shankar. It's pretty much the only book you'll need for QM, or at least the closest you'll ever get to being able to use only one book.

    I liked using Griffiths, but it's not a great choice if you are only going to have one QM textbook. Actually, one of the only advantages I found with Griffiths is the typesetting: it's physically easy to read, which isn't particularly important, but can take some frustration off. It's not really a better book, but sometimes it was easier to stare at its equations than another book's.
     
  15. Jul 29, 2013 #14

    WannabeNewton

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    The only negative thing I can say about Shankar is the lack of an abundant number of exercises but that's not really a big deal since there are a wealth of problems you can get from secondary sources. Other than that, I would agree with DimReg. The other good thing about Shankar is it is very self-contained because the first two chapters have an intro to the necessary LA and classical mechanics that you might have otherwise not seen (Poisson brackets for example). Also he has a chapter on the path integral formulation so that's pretty cool.

    Anyways, it's a good thing that there are so many choices out there. Sticking with one book is not necessarily a good thing because different books have different things to offer.
     
  16. Jul 29, 2013 #15
    Huh, I saw that guy walking outside Yale one day when I was in New Haven (at least I think it was him, 'twas a long time ago).

    I'll take this as my primary text, what's a good text as a secondary? I have Feynman's lectures on QM which I'll be sure to read along side, but a book for questions is probably in order. Nice difficult questions are the best, preferably with an answer booklet of some sort, just to peek at if I get stuck.
     
  17. Jul 29, 2013 #16

    Fredrik

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    Maybe even three. A good option is to pick an easy intro like Griffiths, and supplement it with Isham. (It's an easy book that explains the interesting concepts and doesn't explain how to calculate stuff). Then you move on to one of the tougher books, like Ballentine or Zettili. Maybe even Galindo & Pascual, if you want a more mathematical approach.

    At some point you will probably realize that you have to get better at linear algebra. I recommend Axler for that, especially if you have already studied linear algebra but need to refresh your memory.

    Of the books I mentioned, Isham and Axler are the only ones I've read almost cover to cover. You may want to get a second opinion about the other books I mentioned.
     
  18. Jul 29, 2013 #17

    atyy

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    Well, if you're self-studying - let's say you're a non-physicist like me, then why not just learn the basics in any good traditional textbook like Gasiorowicz, Zettili, Shankar, Griffiths, Rae, Peebles etc. You should be safe with any one of those since you have Feynman. Then you can pick up the more "exciting" stuff depending on your taste by reading things like Nielsen and Chuang's quantum computation, Aspect's quantum optics or Wen's condensed matter. I think the main things are to quickly learn the very simple conceptual framework using spin 1/2 like in Feynman or any quantum computation based approach like Preskill's http://www.theory.caltech.edu/people/preskill/ph229/#lecture or Mermin's http://www.lassp.cornell.edu/mermin/qcomp/CS483.html, and then learn the old fashioned calculations of spectra and scattering even though it's very boring, since those were the way quantum mechanics got established as being correct. If you have professional aspirations, then obviously you shouldn't take advice from a layman like me.
     
  19. Jul 29, 2013 #18
    Do you think Shankar along with Griffiths and Feynman would suffice? I'm in the process of using two books for classical mechanics, Morin and Taylor, in the case that something is confusing or not clear in Morin, it's extremely helpful to be able to consult with Taylor.

    I've studied linear algebra at the level of your typical one semester undergrad course, I'll also be picking up a copy of Lang for a more thorough and theoretical approach.
     
  20. Aug 1, 2013 #19
    I recommend Townsend's A Modern Approach to Quantum Mechanics. It's basically like an undergraduate version of Sakurai, so that it does a good thorough job of introducing the mathematical formalism like bra-ket, while demanding less in the way of mathematical prerequisites. But what I really like about it is that, like Feynman Lectures volume 3, it gives the physical motivation in terms of spin systems, so that you work your way through finite-dimensional Hilbert spaces before getting to time-evolution and continuous positional eigenstates.
     
  21. Aug 1, 2013 #20

    WannabeNewton

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    Please don't take this the wrong way but does Townsend really require fewer mathematical pre-requisites than Sakurai? I mean Sakurai is very light on math to begin with so that's why I was asking. From a first glance Townsend doesn't really seem to be much different from Sakurai at all (as far as the mathematics goes).
     
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