Is Dirac's Principles of Quantum Mechanics a good way to learn?

In summary, the individual is curious about quantum mechanics and is wondering if Dirac's book is a good place to start. The expert recommends starting with more elementary books and then using Dirac's book as a reference. They also suggest reading multiple sources to get a complete understanding of the subject. They recommend using the textbook for the intro to QM class, as well as books by David Griffiths, John Slater, and David Bohm. They also mention other books for a more advanced understanding. They caution against starting with Dirac's book, but suggest reading it after gaining a good understanding of the basics. They also recommend watching a lecture by Dirac instead of reading his book.
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I have heard about its significance to science and my university's library has a few copies but I also notice it's a rather old book so I'm wondering whether or not it is still relevant. If I wanted to learn about quantum mechanics is that a good place to start? The reason I ask is because I am very curious about it but I don't have room in my schedule either this or next semester to fit the intro to quantum physics class in.

Also, regarding the maths involved, will the things I've learned in calculus III, elementary linear algebra, and differential equations be enough? Those, along with University Physics 1 and 2, are listed as the prerequisites for the intro to QM course on my school's website.
 
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  • #2
If I wanted to learn about quantum mechanics is that a good place to start?
Dirac's book is a slightly arcane monograph rather than a textbook. If you want to study the basics of quantum theory, my advice is to start with more elementary books and then as questions arise, search answers in others, more advanced books.

There is no one single very good book on the subject, different people like different books and all have some serious omissions or other flaws. That makes it important to read as much different sources as you can.

For intro, these are nice (easy to go through):

David Griffiths: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
John Slater: Quantum theory of atomic structure
- this is the best book on the basic wave mechanics, in my opinion.

More advanced:

David Bohm: Quantum theory
- from the Copenhagen viewpoint

Ballentine: Quantum mechanics - a modern development
Steven Weinberg: Lectures on Quantum Mechanics
- more modern books

.. and plenty more.
 
  • #3
jack476 said:
I have heard about its significance to science and my university's library has a few copies but I also notice it's a rather old book so I'm wondering whether or not it is still relevant. If I wanted to learn about quantum mechanics is that a good place to start? The reason I ask is because I am very curious about it but I don't have room in my schedule either this or next semester to fit the intro to quantum physics class in.

Also, regarding the maths involved, will the things I've learned in calculus III, elementary linear algebra, and differential equations be enough? Those, along with University Physics 1 and 2, are listed as the prerequisites for the intro to QM course on my school's website.

If you're at a university but just don't have time to schedule the class, there's a lot to be said for the answer that's under your nose: Use the textbook that the class you can't fit in uses. It'll be easier to get help, and if you can fit the class into some later semester, you'll be far ahead of the game.
 
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Dirac's book is a worthy read, but I don't think it should be the first thing you read about QM
 
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dauto said:
Dirac's book is a worthy read, but I don't think it should be the first thing you read about QM

Indeed not.

I leaned proper QM from Dirac's book and Von Neumann's. But having been through that I would not recommend it - to start with Griffiths is much better (if a bit expensive) then Ballentine for the best treatment.

Along the way to get to grips with interpretation issues I like Hughs:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0674843924/?tag=pfamazon01-20

After going through those three books in the order Griffiths, Hughs then Ballentine you will have a very good understanding of QM and, IMHO, that is the time to undertake Dirac.

Thanks
Bill
 
  • #6
somehow JJ Sakurai Modern quantum mechanics appeals well to me!, may be you should try it. Good introduction about history and development is presented in Feynman lectures and David Bohm`s book
 
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jack476 said:
I have heard about its significance to science and my university's library has a few copies but I also notice it's a rather old book so I'm wondering whether or not it is still relevant...

Why read the book when you can watch the movie. The quality of the information in Dirac's lecture makes up for the poor quality of the movie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwYs8tTLZ24&list=PLjNexov924eRr3L8aCirRyVCRN5rGi29W
 

1. Is Dirac's Principles of Quantum Mechanics suitable for beginners?

It is not recommended for beginners as it assumes a strong background in mathematics and physics. It is better suited for advanced students or professionals in the field.

2. How does Dirac's Principles of Quantum Mechanics differ from other textbooks on the subject?

Dirac's approach is more mathematically rigorous and abstract compared to other textbooks which may use more visual and intuitive explanations. It also focuses on the underlying principles rather than specific applications.

3. Are there any prerequisites for understanding Dirac's Principles of Quantum Mechanics?

A strong foundation in mathematics, particularly linear algebra and calculus, is necessary to fully grasp the concepts in Dirac's Principles of Quantum Mechanics. Familiarity with classical mechanics and electromagnetism is also helpful.

4. Is Dirac's Principles of Quantum Mechanics still relevant in modern physics?

Yes, many of the principles and concepts introduced by Dirac are still used in modern physics and quantum mechanics. However, it may be beneficial to supplement with more recent research and developments.

5. Can Dirac's Principles of Quantum Mechanics be used as a standalone textbook for a course?

It is not recommended to use it as the only textbook for a course, as it may not cover all the necessary topics and may require additional resources for a comprehensive understanding. It is better used as a supplement or reference text.

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