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QM from scratch

  1. Mar 3, 2012 #1

    I'm a high school student who is very interested in quantum mechanics. Though, I have certainly not the math background to start studying, and understanding QM fully. I will not be able to take any course relating to this in University, as I'm going in the linguistics and philosophy fields. Therefore, it would be very appreciated if anyone could tell me / advise me on what I shall study and understand (math-wise) before getting into the real subject, and then when I'm past this step, to list me authors and books to read. Books for laymen would also help.

    Thank you very much.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2012 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Well you need to study Calculus and Linear Algebra. Any Calculus textbook (eg Foester http://www.keypress.com/x5224.xml) would be fine but for the Linear Algebra and Advanced Calculus the book by Hubbard is simply superb:

    The two actual QM books I suggest for a person like you interested in understanding rather than learning to solve problems is the books by Hughs and Griffiths:

    Once you feel comfortable at that level my favorite book is Ballentine:

    As a person interested in philosophy and not mathematical physics like I am I congratulate you on wanting to learn the real thing rather than the watered down half truths some (not all) philososphy types think is an understanding of QM - it isnt - as you see with some of their posts. Having knowledge of both (ie philososphy and the real machinery of QM) is very importand IMHO in understanding the philosophy correctly.

    I attended a philosophy class once where they discussed QM and the misconceptions that floated about was staggering such as quantum systems act of their own accord (they don't any more than a rolled dice does - or to be more careful it is silent on such things) and other ditties way off the mark.

    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  4. Mar 4, 2012 #3
    I agree with bhobba: at least single variable calculus is a must, and some linear algebra would be useful as well. Once you're ready to approach the subject seriously, I recommend Volume III of the Feynman Lectures on Physics. (In fact, the Feynman Lectures are a great source for learning physics in general, because they're both easy to understand and teach you a lot. Feel free to take a look at them even before you're up to speed with the math.) Until then, you can whet your appetite with Feynman's other book QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, written for popular audiences.

    Feynman likes to approach pretty much all subjects in an unconventional way, so if you want a more standard textbook with problems and the like you can try Griffith's introduction to QM.
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