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Is one semester of quantum physics enough for a math major?

  1. Aug 27, 2015 #1
    As the title says, I am a mathematics major, but I'm taking extra physics and engineering courses. I'm interested in mathematical physics work in the future.

    I'm taking the first of two semesters of quantum physics offered by my school right now. I was planning to take the next course in the spring 2016 semester, but in my hurry to finally graduate, I am debating on whether or not to skip that one and take my last math courses in the spring instead of finishing in the fall 2016 semester (quantum is only offered spring).

    Would I be missing out on too much if I decided to skip that course? Or should I go ahead and finish up undergrad and move onto my master's degree (applied math).

    BTW, the course I'm taking now covers the following: Planck theory of radiation, photoelectric effect and comptons equation, particle/wave duality, the hydrogen atom, Schroedinger equation (we spend the most time on this), and statistical physics.

    The next course gives a "systematic development of quantum mechanical laws, emphasizing solutions to the Schroedinger equation". (Basically a more in-depth look at the equation, I assume).

    If it helps, I've taken a full course in PDEs, as well...
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2015 #2


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  4. Aug 27, 2015 #3
    Well, for a math major, the second part of the course would be most interesting to you.

    Whether it is a good idea to delay your graduation date depends on whether you'll need QM later. So that depends on what you'll be doing.
  5. Aug 27, 2015 #4
    The master's program I have been looking at allows taking a course like this as an elective:

    "Students acquire a more deeper knowledge on the nature and the power of quantum mechanics. In particular they know how to apply perturbation theory, to employ scattering theory and to apply symmetry arguments. Students also get in touch with more modern aspects of quantum mechanics like in questions about entanglement, non-localities and the measurement problem."

    As well as a mathematical physics course, statistical mechanics, and a course in groups in symmetries.

    Basically I'm wondering if the one course I'm taking now would be enough to serve as a base for one/any of these, or if it's necessary to take the second.

    I guess the problem is that it's hard to know whether or not I will be needing QM at this point... I figured it's a big part of modern mathematical physics, though
  6. Sep 29, 2015 #5
    You might see if the grad programs in applied math you are considering requires two semesters of QM as preparation, or if the admissions prefers two semesters, if you can get this information.

    If/When you see QM at the graduate level, my best guess is that the second semester would be good preparation. However, I do not think you should delay graduation in Math for a semester while you take the one course, when you have the opportunity to take QM in grad school. I defintiely think your PDE course will help you when you need to see the Schrodinger's equation in the QM in a future course.
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