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Textbook for MIT OCW's 8.04: Quantum Physics I

  1. Aug 17, 2014 #1
    In MIT OCW's video course 8.04 Quantum Physics I there are four textbooks listed, and readings suggested for each. In the video of the first lecture the professor recommends studying in groups with people who have done readings from different textbooks. Since I'm not taking the class at MIT that really isn't an option, but I would like to do the recommended readings from 2 of the 4 textbooks. Here are the four recommended textbooks for the course:

    1. Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles by Robert M. Eisberg and Robert Resnick

    2. Introductory Quantum Mechanics by Richard L. Liboff

    3. Quantum Physics by Stephen Gasiorowicz

    4. Principles of Quantum Mechanics by Ramamurti Shankar.

    I have already bought #4 Shankar because I found him to be an extremely effective teacher from the OpenYaleCourses videos he posted for Mechanics and E&M. What would you guys recommend the best option for the second source to be of the remaining three to maybe cover things from a different perspective than Shankar? And why would you recommend your choice for book #2?

    My math background is pretty strong since I have a bachelors in pure math (though from 15 years ago) and I have kept up with a lot of topics applicable (e.g., linear algebra, functional analysis, PDE, group theory, probability) through MOOCs and self-study. I mean no surprises in chapter 1 of Shankar when he goes over the math. I have also done the two courses on MIT OCW on Kleppner & Kolenkow (favorite physics book ever) and Purcell, as well as about half a semester of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics from Goldstein (from the NTNU classical mechanics course on youtube and of course the homework problems too).
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  3. Aug 17, 2014 #2


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    I have only 2 books to recommend, at least according to what you wrote about yourself: Shankar and Sakurai, even though the latter goes as 'graduate'. Shankar has the standard material, Sakurai wrote a wonderful book, very modern approach to the topics. You can compare the subjects in both books.
  4. Aug 17, 2014 #3


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    I don't think this is enough to recommend Gasiorowicz, but I really like his first chapter about the history of quantum mehcanics. It's one of the few textbooks where one can learn that classical thermodynamics works for quantum mechanics and blackbody radiation, but not classical statistical mechanics. The amazing thing to me is that once one uses quantum statistical mechanics and has Planck's amazing derivation, the classically derived formulas like Wien's displacement law and the Stefan-Boltzmann law survive the quantum revolution. I don't think I understood any of the derivations in Gasiorowicz, but it presented enough motivation to learn the material from more understandable sources. I think Wannier's solid state textbook has a classical derivation of Wien's displacement law.
  5. Aug 17, 2014 #4
    I want to eventually read Sakurai, but I want to save it for when I may be more ready with a solid foundation of undergrad level study in the subject. I'm hoping to do 8.04 on my own and then 8.05 on edx when it's offered in February. Is the first or second edition of Sakurai better?
  6. Aug 19, 2014 #5


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    1st edition is about 80% written by the late prof. Sakurai. I can't imagine in what way the 2nd edition can be better. But you can look that up in reviews online (like the ones on amazon), of course.
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