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Requirements prior to Quantum Mechanics

  1. Mar 21, 2015 #1
    What are the requirements in physics and mathematics that somebody must have in order to start learning Quantum Mechanics by himself?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2015 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I see in one of your other threads that you have a copy of Griffiths's book. In the preface he describes the math and physics that he expects students to know.
  4. Mar 21, 2015 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    Calculus up to Multivariable.

    Physics textbooks generally develop the linear algebra etc you need as you go along - but you will need to start with the beginning texts and proceed to more advanced ones eg the following in the following order:

    If your mathematics is more advanced you can skip some in the sequence, but I personally wouldn't.

    If your mathematical background is quite advanced (eg you have a degree in math or equivilant) then you can proceed to some advanced mathematical treatments eg:

    I did a degree in math and taught myself physics. I started with a book like the above (Von Neumann) but having gone down that route I would still do the first order I suggested - that cements concepts.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  5. Mar 21, 2015 #4
    hank you,just the answer i was looking for!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  6. Mar 21, 2015 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    I'll add that in the US at least, most students don't start learning QM in an upper-division undergraduate course using a textbook like Griffiths. They get their first exposure to QM in an "introductory modern physics course" that comes after the usual two-semester first-year introductory course in classical mechanics and electromagnetism. Typical textbooks are by Krane; Tipler; Beiser; Taylor/Zafiratos/Dubson; Ohanian. You can find them on Amazon using searches like "krane modern physics"

    These books typically assume only that the student knows basic differential and intergral calculus, and introduce or review partial derivatives, basic stuff about complex numbers, and the concepts of orthogonality etc. from linear algebra, as needed. They usually cover solutions of Schödinger's equation for the "particle in a box", barrier penetration ("tunneling"), the simple harmonic oscillator, and at least an outline of the solution for the hydrogen atom. I taught a course like this for many years, to students who had usually completed at most only the first two semesters of calculus. After that course, they took a "real" QM course using Griffiths or a similar book.
  7. Mar 21, 2015 #6
    i did not know that.thanks for the heads up,i will download on such book,and after studying it i will continue with the real QM!
  8. Mar 25, 2015 #7
    When I took introductory quantum mechanics, it was listed as requiring third-semester (multivariable) calculus as a corequisite. However, I didn't have time for calculus 3, so I was allowed to satisfy the requirement with the linear algebra course I had taken earlier and differential equations alongside QM.

    The physics requirements were general physics 1 and 2, and general chemistry 1 was recommended.

    I don't take advanced (ie, real) QM until next year, but it's listed as requiring multivariable calculus, linear algebra, E&M, and "at least one of the following: abstract algebra, topology, introduction to real analysis, complex analysis, partial differential equations."
  9. Mar 25, 2015 #8
    For the quantum mechanics in your chemistry class for highschool you'll barely need any calculus.

    For basic quantum mechanics (college level) you will need up to multivariable calculus, some understanding of differential equations (little bit about PDEs), linear algebra, and understanding of electromagnetism.

    For advanced quantum mechanics (physics and engineering physics studies); you'll need all of the above with numerical methods, and applied partial differential equations.
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