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Studying Want to learn Quantum Mechanics - How do I start?

  1. Dec 25, 2016 #1
    I am an engineering student with an interest in quantum mechanics : However, I really need to make a flowchart so I can understand where to proceed

    What I know:
    Math -
    Multivariable calculus, Differential Equations including laplace and fourier series, and Basic Linear Algebra (Spaces, Diagonalization, QR)

    Physics- Mechanics, Dynamics, Waves, Optics, E&M and Maxwell's equations

    I'm thinking of starting with an Introductory book - either Sakurai or Shankar(Any preference anyone?)

    However, my main questions are A) With my given knowledge are those books a good place to start? and B) Can anyone give me a good path to proceed afterwards?

    Thank you all so much!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 25, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    A light weight alternative would be Susskinds book Quantum Mechanics the Theoretical Minimum
  4. Dec 25, 2016 #3
    I would learn some Hamiltonian dynamics first. It's not necessary, but it will make a lot of things much clearer. Try also to do some dual spaces in linear algebra, and inner product spaces. Tensor products might be a good thing to know too.
  5. Dec 25, 2016 #4

    George Jones

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    It might be useful to see some classical mechanics that includes introductory material on Lagrangians and Hamiltonians, but maybe this isn't strictly necessary before beginning quantum mechanics.

    In North America, Sakurai is a standard graduate textbook.

    As a beginning book, one possibility is "Quantum Mechanics" by David McIntyre,

    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  6. Dec 25, 2016 #5
    I'd recommend to have a look at QMSE1 (and then at QMSE2) video course on https://lagunita.stanford.edu and/or at a book "Quantum Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers" by David A. B. Miller.
    It addresses people with no advanced background in math and physics (introducing some math stuff where necessary) and yet is quite serious and covers pretty much.
  7. Dec 25, 2016 #6


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    What level did you see these topics at? I'm guessing you took two years of calculus and the intro physics sequence. You don't mention any modern physics. You might want to start with going over the chapters on basic quantum mechanics in your intro physics book.

    These texts might be too advanced for you. As George noted, Sakurai is a text used in graduate school. You probably want to find a book suitable for an upper-division quantum mechanics course.

    You'll probably need to learn some more advanced math as well, so I recommend getting a good book on mathematical methods in physics.
  8. Dec 25, 2016 #7
    Thanks for the advice - I'm taking a class on modern physics next quarter.

    My plan is now to
    - Read up on Hamiltonians and Lagrangian Mechanics
    - Start Griffith's Introductin to Quantum Mechanics/Read Feynman's Volume III
    - Move to Shankar or Sakurai's Quantum Mechanics

    Any comment's on this plan or Any suggestions on where to proceed afterwards?

    Thank you everyone!
  9. Dec 26, 2016 #8

    I would say that you should feel free to try and read a first few chapters of Griffiths/Feynman/Sakurai/Shankar simultaneously. Each offers a different perspective that complements each other.

    Feynman's introduction is more conceptual and focuses on the double slit experiment. The first chapter of Sakurai is mostly finite dimensional linear algebra and a quick-and-dirty introduction to dual spaces and the infinite dimensional linear algebra. Shankar has a more thorough introduction to the math and Lagrangian/Hamiltonian mechanics. He also shows you how the infinite dimensional case is a continuum limit of the finite dimensional case. Griffiths immediately jumps into the Schrodinger equation in an infinite dimensions and tells you what to calculate.

    After all that, you'll probably have a better idea of what you want to do afterward.
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