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Quantum Mechanics

  1. Nov 11, 2008 #1
    Hello, I was just wondering, is quantum mechanics something that you have to have lots of background in math, or can it be understood by someone without significant math education? I've never learned calculus, but I'm planning on starting to learn it very soon. I was thinking about watching some lectures online by Leonard Susskind. Should I wait a long time, will I be pulling my hair out if I even attempt it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2008 #2
    You won't get very far without knowing differential equations.
  4. Nov 11, 2008 #3
    I found it to be a healthy mix of various different math subjects... Linear algebra...some crazy highly abstract form of linear algebra, ODE's, little bit of PDE's and boundary value problems (so yes to calculus), a jumbled up mix of all of the above, and a lot of cursing (yes, I do consider that to be a form of math). And that was just a first introductory class...

    Edit: If you are learning it on your own, I bet there are some less math-intensive reading material explaining some of the ideas of quantum mechanics. Unfortunately I'm not sure what those are. Perhaps a modern physics text or something...
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  5. Nov 11, 2008 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Before diving into a full-bore QM textbook, you should consider starting with an intro modern physics book aimed at second-year students (i.e. right after the "general physics" course). These books are aimed at students who have had basic calculus but probably have not had multivariable calculus or differential equations yet. They try to introduce enough of those topics to get started on QM, and usually show how to solve Schrödinger's equation for the basic "particle in a box,", then discuss more advanced situations such as the hydrogen atom in at least a schematic way.

    These books also give you a lot more about the historical and experimental background to QM than a "real" QM textbook usually gives you.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2008
  6. Nov 11, 2008 #5
    You need the math.
  7. Nov 11, 2008 #6
    Without math you can only learn some diluted version of quantum mechanics that tends to be misleading rather than helping you in learning the "real" quantum mechanics.
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