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Prerequisites for quantum mechanics

  1. Apr 2, 2012 #1
    Do I need a good grounding in thermodynamics, relativity and fluid mechanics before I study quantum mechanics? I will have a good grounding in sound, optics, electricity and chemistry but I've kind of just glossed over thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. I'm extremely attracted to quantum mechanics and I want to get working on it as soon as possible.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 2, 2012 #2
    No, no, and no. Though more knowledge doesn't hurt.

    A first course in QM usually assumes no extensive background in these topics. How will you be learning the subject? Self study or university course?
  4. Apr 2, 2012 #3
    Self-study. I rely very heavily on solution manuals. I'll also be using susskind's free online course on youtube but sparingly because videos go too slow for me. right now, i have

    problems and solutions on quantum mechanics by yung kuo lim, which is a real dynamite book of 700 pages of solved problems in QM. The authors are chinese so maybe some of the explanations might not be that good.

    i also have problems and solutions in qm by tamvakis which is about 300 pages of solved problems.

    then i got what looks to be a real basic text in qm by ballentine and another basic text by dunningham and vedral which looks like it has all the problems solved in the back.

    i might also get griffiths text on qm which also has a solution manual, i have the sm but not the original text. i will have to drive about 4 hours in order to get that, unless i can get my public library to borrow it.

    I'm also a little worried about the math prerequisites. I'm going to try to find some books that are devoted to the math of QM. I'm going to go through a text on linear algebra and differential equations. i've already done a 1000 pages of calculus but my understanding of calc is still very slipshod. if i need more than linear algebra or DE, please let me know.
  5. Apr 2, 2012 #4
    It's all about what level you want to learn it at. Differential equations and linear algebra at the lower division level is more than enough to get started on some serious quantum mechanics (assuming you are willing to pick up more as necessary in the context of your physics books).
  6. Apr 2, 2012 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    In the US at least, most students do not get their first exposure to QM through "introductory modern physics" textbooks like this one:


    There are others; this is the one I used most recently when teaching such a course. These books give a basic introduction to QM without too much in the way of mathematical prerequisites, just basic differential and integral calculus. They review complex numbers, and introduce partial derivatives and the concept of differential equations.

    Full-on QM textbooks like Ballentine or Griffiths are more approachable for most students after going though an "intro modern" textbook, IMO.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Apr 3, 2012 #6
    Newtonian mechanics is a prerequisite.

    As for math, basic linear algebra and partial differential equations is enough to start. You should know about separation of variables and be able to solve some basic ordinare differential equations. You should also learn about fourier transforms sooner or later if you don't know them already.
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