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Should I take Quantum Mechanics?

  1. Sep 22, 2010 #1

    I'm currently in my second year of an undergraduate degree in Nanotechnology. I have the option of do a 3rd year quantum mechanics subject. The problem is I have only done first year level mathematics and have not done classical mechanics (Although, I have done a second year Modern Physics subject and a vibrations and waves subject). I was just wondering if I should not take the subject because I won't have the mathematical background required to do well?

    Any help will be much appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2010 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    What textbook does the QM course use, and what does "first year level mathematics" include in your system? I assume you're not in the USA.
  4. Sep 22, 2010 #3
    For the physics part, you'll need an understanding of topics like angular momentum and central forces. In a second half of a year QM course, you'll probably need an understanding of Maxwell's equations in differental form, and particularly the vector potential.

    On the math side, the vibrations and waves course will be useful if it included Fourier methods and simple boundary value problems, but you'll also need to know some vector calculus, some linear algebra and matrix algebra.

    You might be able to make up deficiencies as you go along if you are not otherwise overloaded, but remember that QM is already a very intellectually challenging subject aside from much of the mathematical methods used.
  5. Sep 22, 2010 #4
    I'm no expert, but won't QM be practically essential if you want to carry on working with nanotechnology after your degree?
  6. Sep 22, 2010 #5
    The mathematics that I have done are: Algebra (With matrices), differential calculus, series and integral calculus. I'm from Australia. :)

    The textbook for the subject is "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics" by David J. Griffiths.

    I know right? Thats why I think I should be doing it.

    @Daverz, We have done fourier methods in the vibrations and waves. Should I attempt to learn the maths/physics over the summer before the subject begins?
  7. Sep 22, 2010 #6
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2010
  8. Sep 22, 2010 #7
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Sep 22, 2010 #8
    How good is the professor? If you don't understand some math do you know someone who can help?
  10. Sep 22, 2010 #9
    I'd start working through the course textbook so you can find out where your background feels weak. I'd say up through chapter 4 should give you a good idea.

    Griffiths gives some recommendations for background reading in the preface to his book:

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