What makes expectation values real?

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

If you have some wave function of some particle, say...

|¥>

And you calculate the expectation value of momentum, say...

<¥|p|¥>

What ensures that that spatial integral is real valued?

Separately, all the components of the integral are complex valued
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
vanhees71
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The operators, representing observables, are usually assumed to be self-adjoint, i.e., ##\hat{p}=\hat{p}^{\dagger}##. Now you have
$$\langle \psi|\hat{p} \psi \rangle^*=\langle \psi|\hat{p}^{\dagger} \psi \rangle = \langle \psi|\hat{p} \psi \rangle,$$
which implies that the expectation value is real.
 

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