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Quantum mechanics textbook

  1. Apr 21, 2008 #1
    can anybody recommend a textbook for someone with a lay interest in quantum mechanics? for some idea of my background im an undergraduate mechanical engineer with a good physics a-level so i have some idea of whats going on. i'd like to expand on what i've learned from magazines etc but i really dont know where to start.
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  3. Apr 21, 2008 #2
    I thinks so far is Griffiths's the most certified book over many universities ,but it is not a self learning book so you might need help when studying it
  4. Apr 21, 2008 #3
    Griffiths does many things wrong, just because it's a popular choice doesn't mean that it's the best one.

    I would also argue that someone just interested in learning the concepts doesn't need a book geared towards calculations at the expense of conceptual foundations.

    Dirac's Lectures on Quantum Mechanics is (a) insightful, (b) succinct, and (c) cheap!
  5. Apr 21, 2008 #4


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    Zettili's "Quantum Mechanics: Concepts and Applications" has many worked examples that are helpful in clarifying concepts. Zettili spends about twice as many pages covering less material than Dirac. Zettili covers non-relativistic quantum mechanics; whereas Dirac includes chapters on radiation, the relativistic electron, and QED.

  6. Apr 21, 2008 #5
    Don't you mean Principles of Quantum Mechanics?

    I'd recommend Shankar's book by the same name. Pedagogically very thorough and useful for self study.
  7. Apr 21, 2008 #6


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    Can you be more specific?
    There is one topic that I think he handles in a confusing way and I could almost say that he says things that could be considered wrong, and that's his approach to symmetric versus antisymmetric wavefunctions. He does not include the spin wavefunctions when he determines the symmetry /antisymmetry of the spatial wavefunctions until the very end and then he does it almost as an afterthought.

    Except for that I found his book very clear and interesting.

    It depends on the learning style. For a *lot* of people, seeing a lot of abstract formalism without seeing explicit examples does not help them understand at all.
  8. May 3, 2008 #7
    However, you might not enjoy it too much if you aren't mathematically inclined; specifically, you should have knowledge of calculus and some linear algebra (which he goes through).
    It helps to get a taste of different books, though. You might like Griffiths' style more (I don't think he assumes as much in the way of linear algebra at the start).
  9. May 3, 2008 #8

    That is one book I would definitely NOT recommend. It has possibly the worst organization of any physics or math book I have every opened. Things like scattering and quantum wells were spread quasi-randomly over multiple chapters making it insanely difficult for me to collect my knowledge after finishing a section or after finishing the course.

    I would not recommend Shankar's Principles of Quantum Mechanics as a first book since it is the standard graduate-level text. I tried to self-study from it last summer with more-than-sufficient mathematical background but no quantum mechanics background and I got absolutely nowhere. I haven't looked at Griffiths QM but I think that is probably your best bet (his E and M book was worth its weight in gold).
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  10. May 3, 2008 #9
    Yes, the other book, the book I mentioned is way more advanced.

    No, you're thinking of Sakurai. Shankar is a standard undergrad book.
  11. May 3, 2008 #10
    I was thinking of the right book. In my experience Shankar is a graduate-level text.
  12. May 3, 2008 #11
    What experience? Aren't you an undergrad? I don't mean to be offensive, but it's clear from your previous post that you are really struggling with learning qm, and it's hard for you to accurately assess the difficulty level of various books if you can't penetrate the theory anyway. We've all had that experience, and I'm not insulting you, it's just that you have to realize that you are not in a good position yet to rank textbooks.
  13. May 3, 2008 #12
    I said it is a graduate-level text because I know of several graduate courses that use it and I know no undergrad courses that use it. I ALSO said it was difficult from my personal experience but that had NOTHING to do with my calling it a graduate level text.
  14. May 3, 2008 #13


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    The first half of Shankar's text was one of the references for my third-year undergrad quantum physics course. I think both Griffith's and Shankar's texts are excellent books, and should be accessible to an undergrad student.
    Last edited: May 3, 2008
  15. May 3, 2008 #14


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    has any one here used P. T. Matthew's "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics"? I think its a pretty good book to start with. It begins with some old quantum theory, then a chapter on differential operators and commutation relations, and then to observables and [x,p] = ih with a very good discussion about the motivation and reasons for why quantum theory is needed, without pulling schroedingers equation out of the air. And all at an elementary level. If youre uncomfortable starting with the SE, and havent reached the formal part of your course yet, you might be interested in reading the first few chapters of this.
    Last edited: May 3, 2008
  16. May 3, 2008 #15


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    I'm currently beginning to look for graduate programs in physics (will be a senior next year.)

    There are indeed a good deal of schools who say that they assume undergrad quantum mechanics preparation at the level of Shankar. One school that I can remember off the top of my head that said this was Chicago. If there are graduate schools who assume that their incoming grad students have used Shankar in undergrad, then some reasonable number of schools must use it as an undergrad text.
  17. May 3, 2008 #16
    OK. Then I guess I was overgeneralizing and the graduate students at my school are somewhat behind.
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