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Quantum Mechanics Textbook?

  1. May 9, 2010 #1
    Im looking for a quantum mechanics textbook(preferably cheap) but ive found some and I just don't want to be spending too much money on something i won't be able to understand. I am 14 years old but i do know a lot about this subject and am craving for more knowledge, ive read tons of regular non fictions books on quantum physics,but i want an actual textbook with equations and full explanations and such. The ones im looking at to maybe buy now are these:

    https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Quantum-Theory-David-Park/dp/0486441377

    https://www.amazon.com/Introduction...=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273419318&sr=8-5

    If you have any suggestions on textbooks that would be great thanks.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 9, 2010 #2

    Fredrik

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    If you're only 14, you probably don't know enough math to really be able to follow the presentation in the standard textbooks, but I'm not going to discourage you from trying. I say go for it. Even if it fails, you will get a better understanding of what math you need to study before you give it another try. So I will take your request seriously and recommend a few books of the type you're asking for, but I have to warn you that you will probably find all of these very difficult to follow.

    Griffiths looks good to me, but I've only read a few pages in it. I've seen comments saying that Shankar is better. Zettili is getting great reviews at Amazon. The book by Park is only getting a 3 at Amazon. I'd be concerned about that. I really like the book by Isham, not as an introductory text, but as a supplement to one of the others, to help you understand things better.

    It's impossible to learn QM well without at least knowing some linear algebra. My favorite book on linear algebra is the one by Axler. He's doing things right. :smile:

    If you decide that you want a softer start, you might want to consider an "introduction to modern physics" book. People usually recommend that type of books to people who don't have the mathematical maturity that the authors of the books mentioned above expect their readers to have. I haven't read any such book myself, so I don't know if I would have liked it or not.

    A few comments about the math: It's essential that you study complex numbers. You also need to know a little calculus, but only a little. When you understand what a derivative is, and what an integral is, your lack of knowledge about the rest of calculus isn't going to be a major obstacle. Linear algebra is much more important. You need to at least understand vector spaces, linear independence and bases, linear operators, matrices, the relationship between linear operators and matrices, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, and inner products. This is college level stuff. It's easy compared to a calculus class in college, but when you still have several years of high school left, you may still find it very difficult.
     
  4. May 12, 2010 #3
    thank you so much Fredrik you really helped me out, i was thinkin that math would be the largest obstacle too. I am trying to learn some of the calculus and linear algebra things now. Right now im only in geometry in school then comes algebra 2 and then pre calc and then calc. So should I just look up those authors: Shankar, Zettili, Isham, and Axler? And buy some of those? And should I buy them from amazon?
    Again thank you so much you really helped me out!
     
  5. May 12, 2010 #4
    thank you so much Fredrik you really helped me out, i was thinkin that math would be the largest obstacle too. I am trying to learn some of the calculus and linear algebra things now. Right now im only in geometry in school then comes algebra 2 and then pre calc and then calc. So should I just look up those authors: Shankar, Zettili, Isham, and Axler? And buy some of those? And should I buy them from amazon?
    Again thank you so much you really helped me out!
     
  6. May 12, 2010 #5

    fluidistic

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    I think it would be wiser if you borrow them from a library, if you can. Then you can decide whether to buy them or not.
     
  7. May 12, 2010 #6
    Why don't QM in simple matrix form?
    however, I suggest you have at least a good understanding of the theory of classical mechanics (do some problems-set as well) before getting into QM, so that you can learn it much more effective.
     
  8. May 12, 2010 #7

    Landau

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    I don't know if you meant this, but https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Mechanics-Simple-Matrix-Form/dp/0486445305 is - I think - great for a beginner. It is very easy to follow, and only uses complex numbers and matrices (and explains these concepts themselves). Probably most (bright) high schoolers can follow it! (Of course it is an elementary book, but it will probabl whet your appetite!)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  9. May 12, 2010 #8

    Fredrik

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    That's what I had in mind. :smile: I just had a quick look at Griffiths, Shankar and Zettili at "the library" and it's hard to know if I'm right, since I didn't actually use any of these to learn QM, but I think Griffiths looks like a better place to start than the other two. Zettili starts with 80 pages of historical stuff and then another 80 pages of math. Griffiths starts right away with wavefunctions and the Schrödinger equation, and he appears to be doing it really well. You should definitely read the first few pages, and probably the first few chapters, even if you decide to go with another book. If I were you, I think I'd ask my parents to buy https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Quantum-Mechanics-David-Griffiths/dp/0131118927/ for linear algebra. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't use the other two QM books. When you get stuck on a concept in Griffiths/Isham, read about it in the library's copies of Shankar or Zettili.

    I think Amazon is a good place to buy them, but you may have other options. For example, maybe you can find a used copy of the expensive one (Griffiths).

    Now regarding the other math that you need to study, I'm not the right person to recommend specific books (how about the textbooks you'll use in high school anyway?), but I'll say again that you don't need a whole lot of calculus to begin studying QM. You should understand derivatives well and know what an integral is, but you don't need to know e.g. how to integrate a lot of different functions or how to tell if a series converges. (Those are annoyingly hard things that you'll have to study in a college-level calculus class, but you don't need them for QM).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  10. May 12, 2010 #9

    dx

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    Does he introduce and emphasize the idea of the dual to a vector space? That's one of the most important things that are missing from linear algebra texts that do things wrong.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
  11. May 12, 2010 #10

    Fredrik

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    I just checked, and he doesn't even mention that term in the book. That's a bit disappointing. But it's possible to do without that concept for a very long time. The only place where you really need it (in QM) is when it's time to define bra-ket notation, and what we really need then is the Riesz representation theorem, which doesn't belong in a linear algebra book.
     
  12. May 12, 2010 #11

    dx

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    I was actually thinking of the intrinsic importance of it in linear algebra itself, and also quite significant importance in differential geometry, electrodynamics, classical mechanics (you can't really understand what a canonical momentum is without knowing about covectors), special and general relativity.
     
  13. May 13, 2010 #12
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  14. May 14, 2010 #13
    Thank you every one. And shing i am going to check out that book from amazon, it looks good and is very cheap :).
     
  15. May 14, 2010 #14
    And another thing, i know the one thing in quantum mechanics is math math math, its their language, im only in geometry, i have 2 years till calculus, what i want to know is what's the best thing i can do now, let's say over the summer to study math. Should i just read those linear algebra books, cause i looked at one and i just coulden't understand past the first page.
     
  16. May 14, 2010 #15

    Fredrik

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    It's hard to say. Maybe you should just study your high school math textbooks for now, to give yourself the knowledge that the authors of the college books expect you to have. The only better option I can think of would be to find a person in your area who's willing to be your mentor/tutor/teacher. But you might have a hard time just finding such a person, and even if you do, you would have to pay him. I guess you'd need rich parents for that.

    You can also try asking questions in this forum about the things you don't understand. You may find that after getting a few answers, things get a bit easier. And it's also possible that you'll have to ask about almost every detail on every page. If it's starting to seem that way, you should probably take a break from the college stuff and focus on getting through the high school material as quickly as you can instead.
     
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