1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Which QM books should I buy?

  1. Feb 23, 2007 #1
    I am doing an upper undergrad class in QM and the lecturer recommands one of two books

    Here is the course content
    "Topics covered include the probability interpretation, time evolution and the Schrödinger equation, Fourier transforms, Hermitian operators, the eigenvalue problem, expectation values, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and commutation relations, symmetries and conservation laws, the Dirac delta-function. The quantum mechanics of angular momentum is developed and then applied to central force systems such as the hydrogen atom. The energy eigenstates of the one-dimensional harmonic oscillator are also analysed. The physics of spin-1/2 particles is developed using the matrix theory of spin. The Hilbert space or state vector formulation of quantum mechanics is developed and Dirac bra-ket notation introduced. Time-independent perturbation theory is introduced."

    B H Bransden and C J Joachain, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics. Longmans.


    E Merzbacher, Quantum Mechanics. Wiley.

    Which should I buy?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 23, 2007 #2
    Bransden is very good IMO.
  4. Feb 23, 2007 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I don't have either of the 2 books, but the course content is to be found in any QM text. Therefore, let's say that you could also include D.J. Griffiths text on the list from which you choose.
  5. Feb 23, 2007 #4
    I haven't heard about this two books. However, I strongly recommend the book of J.J. Sakurai "Modern Quantum Mechanics" or the book of R.Shankar "Principles of Quantum Mechanics".

    The book of Sakurai is a standard introduction to the quantum mechanical concepts. If you want to go more into detail, I would buy the book of Shankar. I think the text of this book goes into further details of the quantum mechanical topic.
  6. Feb 23, 2007 #5
    Isn't Sakurai "Modern Quantum Mechanics" more for a grad course in QM? I think it even states that in the introduction...but I could be wrong
  7. Feb 23, 2007 #6
    Yes, that's true. But I think the text is also appropriate for an upper undergrad level.
  8. Feb 23, 2007 #7
    I would recommend against using Merzbacher at the undergrad level. I used the most recent edition in a graduate-level course in quantum mechanics, and I would say that it's not suitable for use at the undergrad level. Once one masters QM at an undergrad level, it may be useful for developing a more sophisticated understanding of QM.
  9. Feb 24, 2007 #8
    I had a look at Griffiths, it's thinner and seems easier then both books which is good for me. E Merzbacher, Quantum Mechanics. Wiley. seems nearly impossible for me.

    B H Bransden and C J Joachain, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics. Longmans. seemed to get good reviews at Amazon (5 out of 5) although only 4 were made. While Griffiths received 88 reviews. Griffiths sure seems widely used.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2007
  10. Feb 24, 2007 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I personally like Cohen-Tannoudji because he is very lengthy about everything. But this is my personal strange taste. Gotta love Reif for thermodynamics too. He is equally lengthy.
  11. Feb 24, 2007 #10


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Books are like socks: they are dependent on a personal taste, and not every sock fits every foot :smile:

    Of the books that have been mentioned here, I will make a few comments.

    I love JJ Sakurai's "Modern quantum mechanics", but as someone says, it is not an intro book. In other words, this book picks up where the content of the course by the OP ends! That said, I think it is a brilliant book, not too difficult, not too long, and very insightful.

    Cohen-Tannoudji is also a good book. It is very verbose (and monstruously thick!), which has a good and a bad side to it. The good side is that 1) everything is explained in detail, so you normally, after you read about a topic, not much (technical) questions will remain: everything is covered, well explained etc...
    2) that about any reasonable topic touched upon in an intro QM course has been treated somewhere in the book. So it is a quite complete "bible".
    The downside is that you will never read it. It's simply too much, too thick, too many pages. It is the book to have on one's shelf, and to look into it from time to time, especially when there's a technical part one doesn't quite get.

    The book I learned initially QM from is a very old book, but I think it keeps the right middle between too verbose and too succinct, it also tries to give some explanations and so on. It is Messiah.
    The last part of Messiah (in the second volume) is outdated. You shouldn't read the last part on radiation quantization. But all the rest is, I think, a very good treatment of standard intro QM material.

    And the good thing is that you can obtain it as a cheap Dover edition.
  12. Feb 24, 2007 #11
    We are recommended to buy

    Physics of Atoms and Molecules, Second Edition (Paperback)
    by B.H. Bransden (Author), C.J. Joachain

    in second semester for a second course on QM called "Atomic, molecular and solid state physics". So it might be good to use the QM book written by the same authors in the first semester?
  13. Feb 24, 2007 #12
    Well, as long as we are just recommending our favorite QM books, I'll put in a vote for Shankar. He covers most of what Sakurai does, but at a more elementary level, with more background material (for example, a chapter on Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics), and he's pleasant to read.

    However, Bransden & Joachain, which I haven't seen, seems to be highly rated on Amazon.
  14. Feb 24, 2007 #13
    Shanker seems to have good reviews (4.5/5) at Amazon as well with 45 reviews.

    The candidates for me might be Shanker, Bransden and Griffiths.
  15. Feb 25, 2007 #14
    I vote for Shankar then. For me it is by far the best text on QM. Easy to read yet more advanced than the standard introductory texts such as Griffiths. If you work through Shankar and understand it all I say you get a very good understanding of QM, including an introduction to path integrals and relativistic QM.
  16. Feb 25, 2007 #15
    But have you used all 3 of the candidates?
  17. Feb 25, 2007 #16
    yes, although only parts of Bransden.
  18. Feb 25, 2007 #17
    The problem is my lecturer's notes are based on E Merzbacher.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook