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Need help with basic QM

  1. Jan 18, 2007 #1
    Hey guys I'm new here. I'm a sophomore in college and am very interested in learning QM, with a more math oriented approach. I know classical mechanics and EM pretty well and am good at calculus up to differential equations. Is there any good place to start on my own? I simply don't have time to take the credits to take the course at school.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2007 #2
    Quantum Mechanics Self-Study

    If you are trying to study quantum mechanics on your own (which is commendable and shows ambition on your part) I would recommend that you get Amit Goswami's book. It is written on the level for advanced undergrads and beginning grad students. Some will say Griffiths is better, but Goswami's problems at the end of the chapters are more engaging (in my opinion anyhow). Stay away from Sukari, I wouldn't look at his book until you've worked your way up to perturbation theory in Goswami's book.

    The general sequence of topics for any QM class are:

    1- Failure of the classical radiation theory, introduction of quanta
    2- The infamous Schroedinger equation and review of eigenvalue problems
    3- Operator representation of classical quantities
    4- Solution of Schroedinger in 1-D square wells
    5- Harmonic oscillators
    6- Quantum numbers of orbital angular momentum
    7- Solution of Hydrogen atom in radial potential
    8- Electrons in a radiation field
    Models up to this point are all toys.
    9- Aprroximation methods perturbation theory
    Stationary States, Time-dependent states, and Scattering problems.
  4. Jan 18, 2007 #3
    thanks a lot, i'll look into it, hopefully the library has this book

    i'm sure ill be on this forum with a lot of simple questions
  5. Jan 19, 2007 #4


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    What do you mean by that ? The best book for that is "Quantum Mechanics" by Galindo and Pascual, perhaps complemented by Prugovec,ki and Thirring.

  6. Jan 19, 2007 #5
    Books and authors are always a matter of opinion. I've been tutoring undergrads in quantum mechanics for about ten years now, and the students I've worked with couldn't relate at all to Walter Thirring. They said the book was too bogged down in math and formalism to get a clear "rudimentary" understanding. I can't comment on the two other titles you mention. I have done plenty of research through the years on what strategies work for students at various levels (e.g.- those who would have stonger background in math or done well in an allied science). And with regards to QM I have found Goswami's book a good fit.
  7. Jan 19, 2007 #6


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    I still like my very old copy of Messiah. It is very cheap now, at Dover.
    However, the last part is a bit outdated (on relativistic QM).
  8. Jan 19, 2007 #7


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    I will still tout the best introductory QM text that I've ever come across that do not skimp on coverage. It is Elmer Anderson's "Modern Physics and Quantum Mechanics". It is out of print, but you can still find used ones on Amazon.

    What is so amazing for an INTRO book like this is (i) it covers various aspect of modern physics, including Special Relativity; (ii) it is one of the few intro books that actually have a good discussion on variational method, something that most intro QM texts leave out; (iii) one of the best text that I have seen at explaining and applying matrix mechanics, especially on matrix diagonalization and unitary transformation (the only other elementary text that does as clear of an explanation is Boas's mathematical physics text); (iv) it has the clearest explanation of perturbation method, something that I found confusing in books like Liboff and Messiah IF one has never come across it before.

    It is highly recommended if you can find one (used ones are selling for less than $10 on Amazon). When I die, this is one of the books that I will be buried with, so that I will have something to read.


    Last edited: Jan 19, 2007
  9. Jan 19, 2007 #8
    Physics Forums, hang around here for a while and you'll learn loads. :smile:
  10. Jan 19, 2007 #9
    Perturbation theory is a quite technical subject, and if this book can explain it clearly and with ease this sounds like a real find. Goswami has a good discussion on variational methods and building trial wavefunctions (although it's brief).
  11. Jan 20, 2007 #10
    Don't get Liboff's book. This book sucked SO hard. :(
  12. Jan 20, 2007 #11
    I've found Griffiths great. The problems are sometimes more challenging than what he covers in the chapter, but there are also many solid problems that will give you an understanding. He covers both the variational principle and perturbation theory.

    Since you seem to be coming from a mathematical background, my next advice may fall on deaf ears: Know your linear algebra. If you get the chance take an upper division linear algebra class. It's very important to quantum mechanics.

    Also, you might as well take a look at all of the recommended books (most college libraries should have them) instead of just choosing one on our advice. Textbooks are often a matter of taste.
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