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Recommended QM book(s) for beginners?

  1. Jun 20, 2011 #1
    Hi! I got a Barnes & Noble gift card for my birthday yesterday, and am wondering how to spend it on an introductory book or books about QM. My math background was sufficient to get an ME degree in 1958, and that litttle knowledge is now pretty rusty. I would appreciate any advice concerning books I might look for, thanks!
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  3. Jun 20, 2011 #2
    If you don't already have them, the Feynman Lectures are a timeless classic (also collectible!). Other than that, I would probably recommend Griffiths' Introduction to Quantum Mechanics. What you can do is take a look at the quantum mechanics courses of some universities and look at the texts that they are using. I would recommend reading quite a few before buying one since it is important to pick a QM text which you feel the most intuitive with.

    edit: If your math skills are rusty, consider also picking up a book for linear algebra and differential equations, although online notes might also serve that purpose if all you need is a refresher.
  4. Jun 20, 2011 #3


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    Do you mean a popular account or something that a physics student would study? Assuming the latter: if you have brushed up on your multivariable calc and maybe some linear algebra you can easily start with "Principles of Quantum Mechanics" - Shankar and/or "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics" - Griffiths. The first has answers to *some* questions on the back and the second has none but if you are self - studying then you might as well download the solutions manual online for the second. I would recommend Shankar's text because it has a better treatment of Hilbert Spaces, eigenvalue problems, degeneracy etc. at the introductory level as opposed to Griffith's which seems more like a cookbook of QM problems that glosses over the concepts. Both are pretty self - contained and for someone like you, the math background could probably be refreshed in very little time because there really isn't much outside of multivariable calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra for these texts.
  5. Jun 20, 2011 #4
  6. Jun 20, 2011 #5
    Hopefully you can find one of these in a store so you can check whether you are comfortable with the mathematical level:

    I'll second Feynman (Lectures volume 3). It's usually not recommended because it doesn't follow a traditional course outline, but that shouldn't bother anyone who doesn't need it for a course.

    The Structure and Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics by R.I.G. Hughes is aimed at the technically educated non-specialist interested in the foundations of QM.

    The Meaning of Quantum Theory: A Guide for Students of Chemistry and Physics by Jim Baggott is less deep, but maybe an easier read than Hughes.

    Gary Bowman's Essential Quantum Mechanics seems to be aimed at the same technical non-specialist audience, but without the philosophy. I haven't seen it, though.

    The trouble with textbooks is that they need to include every topic needed for further coursework, and not all these topics are of interest to someone reading for "personal enrichment".
  7. Jun 20, 2011 #6
    I haven't read it, but in other threads about popular books on quantum mechanics, many people are enthusiastic about "Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed" by Khalili.
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