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Mathematical Requirements for Basic Quantum Physics

  1. Jul 5, 2011 #1
    I want to be able to follow basic books for quantum physics to get a taste of some of the underlying principles. The problem is: I don't even know half of the symbols.

    So basically, what mathematical knowledge is needed to be able to follow the formulas and principles in a quite basic quantum mechanics book?
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  3. Jul 5, 2011 #2
    Partial Differential Equations
    Statistics and Probability
    Linear Algebra
    Hilbert spaces
  4. Jul 5, 2011 #3
    Do I only need to touch over certain concepts of these subjects or is a deeper understanding needed and I have to wait to take all the classes?
  5. Jul 5, 2011 #4

    George Jones

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    Do you really think that knowledge all of these things is necessary before studying "a quite basic quantum mechanics book?"
  6. Jul 5, 2011 #5
    Sorry George, i did not read the "simple" qualifier. How simple are we talking? Why not get a Brian Greene or Stephan Hawking book, there are no equations in those, but that does limit understanding. It would help if you posted the titles of the books you are having trouble understanding.
  7. Jul 5, 2011 #6
    It depends how well you want to understand QM?
  8. Jul 5, 2011 #7

    George Jones

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    First: Welcome to Physics Forums!

    Note that I am not the original poster and I didn't write anything about trouble with understanding quantum mechanics books. I think we have a difference of opinion, but that doesn't mean that we can't discuss this difference of opinion calmly. :smile:

    How simple? Any standard final-year undergrad quantum mechanics text.
  9. Jul 5, 2011 #8
    Sorry, i was refering to the op after the first line. I did not mean to say you had trouble understanding.

    If it is a final year undergrad physics book, i believe linear algebra, differential equations and probability would suffice.
  10. Jul 5, 2011 #9

    George Jones

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    If Nano-Passion meant something easier than this, something like


    or a text for a North American Modern Physics course, then I would say multivariable calculus and maybe basic intros to the stuff that you have listed.

    I am not trying to discourage the study of mathematics, I like mathematics, but not much is needed to study introductory, quantitative physics texts.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  11. Jul 6, 2011 #10
    Yes, this is exactly the kind of book that I was talking about! I want to dive in to some non-intuitive stuff instead of classical mechanics. Though I fell in love with the power and mathematical prediction that classical mechanics came with its starting to become bland to me now. I took physics in highschool, later I had to take physical science which was basically a recap, and now I have to go over calculus-based mechanics again!

    I would have to wait an awefully long while so I want to run through some of the basic quantum mechanic principles because I find them so bewildering.

    Anyways enough of my rambling, I'm pretty lost on where to begin in self-studying the required mathematics. Is multivariable calculus basically a different name for calculus III? If not then what is it?

    I'm just self-teaching myself calculus at the moment till my fall semester starts so it sounds like I have a long while to go unless I know exactly what mathematical concepts I need. Please help. ^.^
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  12. Jul 6, 2011 #11

    George Jones

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    Prerequisites for the book probably are Calc I, II, III.
  13. Jul 6, 2011 #12


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    For intro modern physics books that also present an introduction to the mathematics of QM, but are "easier" than Eisberg & Resnick (which IMO is pretty tough slogging for many students, with lots of text), consider:




    I used Taylor et al. when I taught this course most recently. All you absolutely need is a fair working knowledge of single-variable calculus (derivatives and integrals), and an acquaintance with partial derivatives from multivariable calculus. As I recall (I don't have the book handy to check), it introduces/reviews complex variables and basic probability as needed, and the basic concept of a differential equation. It presents the basic stuff about the wave function, normalization, expectation values, the "particle in a box" and other simple one-dimensional examples. It outlines the solution of the Schrödinger Equation for the hydrogen atom without filling in all the gory details (for example, it derives the differential equation for the theta-part of the solution, and then basically says "the solutions are called spherical harmonics, and here's a table of some of them"), focusing on the quantum numbers and their significance.

    After doing something like this, you're better prepared for a full-blown QM course using a textbook like Griffiths or Morrison, etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  14. Jul 6, 2011 #13
    In my Chem I class we learned about QM for 3 chapters. It doesn't have much math but I learned the big ideas. I know you said you want to learn the physics but a conceptual understanding can never hurt. Good luck.
  15. Jul 6, 2011 #14
    As of now I am up to the chain rule. I think I might skip around and teach myself the basics needed because I want to dive into some of the stuff in quantum physics already.

    Things that I will teach myself is integration, basics of differential equations, polar coordinates, "vectors and the geometry of space", "vector-valued functions", multiple integration?, and some "vector analysis".

    Whats in quotes is simply the chapter title. I would study these and whatever material needed in between I will refer back to and learn it. I was given that idea by someone else and I liked it.

    Thoughts? I don't really know much at all of what is really needed but just have a little idea looking through my calculus textbook.
  16. Jul 7, 2011 #15
    Wow, the book by Ohanian is available for only 12 dollars including shipping? 0__o

    It sounds good, but I was thinking about following an introductory to mechanics book from college. Such as Principles of Quantum Mechanics by Shankar :


    or Quantum Mechanics: an Introduction by Greiner


    Its style caught my attention. What would be better to follow one of these books (with no cost might I add =p) or a textbook by Ohanian?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
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