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Postulates of QM

State vector / wavefunction

Observable / operator

Measurement

State of a system

Postulate 1: Every quantum mechanical system is described by a complex- valued wave function or state vector which contains all the information about the system.

Example:

Ø Ground state of a 1D SHO: 1
e ( m !
)
x 2
0 ( x ) = m !
4
2
~
⇡~ 0 ( x )
x

Ø Energy eigenstates in a 1D inﬁnite square well potential n ( x )
2
n ( x ) = q L sin n ⇡
x
L

Ø A spin state of an electron:

| i =

1 0 Corollary

State of a system

Ø A wavefunction contains all the information about a system.

| ( x ) | 2 dx

=the prob. density of ﬁnding the ptcl betwn. x and x+dx 1D SHO

Ø A wavefunction is arbitrary up to an overall phase factor

If a wave function is multiplied by a complex number, it still describes the

same system, i.e. for any wave function

( x ) , ( x ) , 3 ( x ) , (2 + 5 i ) ( x ) , e i ⇡ / 3 ( x )

all describe the same physical state

Representa6on

State of a system

A wave function or state vector can be represented in many different formats. Some commonly used representations are:

(i) Position space representation: 1
e ( m !
)
x 2
0 ( x ) = m !
4
2
~
⇡~ 1
(ii) Matrix representation:
| ↵i = ✓
0 ◆
(iii) Superposition of eigenstates:
X
N
X
N
( x ) =
c i i ( x )
|
i =
c
i | i i
i
=1
i
=1
@ ( x )
To describe a physical system,
must be:
(
x )
and
@
x

- ﬁnite

- continuous

- singled valued State of a system

Probability density: Born’s probabilistic interpretation: square of the norm of the

wavefunction

|

(~r, t ) |

2

represents probability density, i.e., the quantity | (~r, t ) | 2 d 3 r

gives the probability of ﬁnding the system between

~r

and

~r + d~r

at time t

Ex.: Energy eigenstates of 1D SHO and their associated probability densi=es  State of a system

Probability density (contd.) : | i i

|

c i ( t ) | 2

at time t

| ( t ) i = X c i ( t ) | i i

More generally, for a state vector of the form

norms squared

state

, the

represent the probability of the system being in basis

Superposi=on principle: The linear superposition of two or more wavefunction represents a state in the same Hilbert space

Normaliza=on : Since the total probability of ﬁnding a QM particle at any position is unity at any time, a wavefunction is usually normalized, i.e.,

Z | (~r, t ) | 2 d 3 r = 1

cf.

X | c i ( t ) | 2 = 1

Observables and operators Observable : dynamical variable that can be measured

Postulate 2: For every dynamical variable, there is an associated linear operator.

For physical observables, the operator has to be Hermitian.

Examples: Dynamical variable
linear operator
Physical observable
Hermi=an operator
 ˆ ~ ~

p~ ! P = i ~ r p 2 ~ 2 2m ! 2m r 2   p 2 + V (~r, t ) ! ~ 2 2m r 2 + ˆ V (~r, t ) 2 m

~

 ˆ ˆ ~ ~ ~

L = ~r p~ ! L = i ~ R ⇥ r

linear momentum

kinetic energy

total energy / Hamiltonian

angular momentum

Observables and operators

Correspondence principle: replace variables with

corresponding operators in classical physics equations, e.g.,

Total energy of a particle: Schrodinger equation: p 2 2m + V (~r, t ) = E   2
ˆ
~ m r 2 (~r, t ) + V (~r, t ) (~r, t ) = i ~ @ (~r, t )
2
@
t

Measurement

The concept of measurement (of a physical observable such as position, momentum, energy) in QM differs radically from classical physics

Measurement aﬀects a QM system in a fundamental manner

Postulate 3 : Result of a measurement yields one of the eigenvalues of the associated Hermitian operator.

Example: A 1D SHO is in an arbitrary state described by a wave function which is a linear superposition of its energy eigenstates

( x ) =

N

X c i i ( x ) ,

i =1

c i 2 Z

If the energy of the state is measured, the outcome will be one of the energy eigenvalues, E i .

Measurement

Consider an ensemble (many identical copies) of a QM system described by the wave function

( x ) =

N

X c i i ( x ) ,

i =1

c i 2 Z

where

i ( x )

are the energy eigenstates with energies E i

Prepare an ensemble (thought expt.)

Measure

energy

(illustra=ve)

New

state ( x )
( x )
( x )

E 3

E 7

E 9 3 ( x ) 3 ( x ) 3 ( x )  ( x
) ( x
) E 4

E 5 ( x )

E 8 3

(

x )

3 ( x ) 3 ( x ) ( x )
( x )
( x )

E 2

E

1

E

3 3 ( x )

3 ( x ) 3 ( x )

Corollary 1: Following a measurement, the system changes fundamentally. It is no longer in its original state. Instead the particle goes to the corresponding eigenstate – this is known as the collapse of wavefunction.

Corollary 2: If the state is prepared in an eigenstate, then all the measurement outcomes will be the same.

Measurement

The outcome of a measurement is probabilis3c

Postulate 4 : The probability of obtaining one of the (non-degenerate) eigenvalues in a measurement is given by the modulus squared of the amplitude of the corresponding eigenvector in the expansion of the state vector in the basis of the eigenstates of the operator. X
N
( x ) =
c i i ( x ) ,
c i 2 Z
i
=1
| c i | 2
P ( E i ) = h | c i | | 2
=
i
R dx ⇤ ( x ) ( x )
|
i = X c i | i i
H| i i = E i | i i
i | c i | 2
P ( E i ) = h | c i | | 2
=
i P
N
=1 | c i | 2
i

Consider the state from the previous slide:

Probability of obtaining energy eigenvalue E i in a measurement is

In Dirac bra-ket notation:

State vector:

Probability: For normalised wave functions, P ( E i ) = | c i | 2

Measurement

The outcome of a measurement is probabilis3c

The outcome of individual measurements of an observable is probabilistic. If

such a measurement is carried out for an ensemble of identical systems, the weighted average of all measurements is called the expectation value.

 ˆ Expectation value: The expectation value of an operator by the weighted average of all the eigenvalues A in a state

|

i

is given ˆ
|
A |
i
ˆ
h A i = h
=
X a i P ( a i )
h
|
i
i

( x ) =

N

X c i i ( x ) ,

i =1

c i 2 Z

For the state considered in the previous slide,

the expectation value of the energy in this state will be X
N
h E i = R dx ⇤ ( x ) H ( x )
| c i | 2 P ( E i )
R dx ⇤ ( x ) ( x ) =
i
=1

(this would be the classical energy)

Summary

Ø State of a system: QM system is represented by a wavefunction / state vector

Ø Probabilistic interpretation: | Ψ(x)| 2 = prob. Of ﬁnding ptcl. betwn. x and x+dx

Ø Observable: Every physical observable associated with a Hermitian operator

Ø Measurement: Measurement fundamentally affects a QM system. The outcome of a measurement in a mixed state is probabilistic - each masurement yields one of the eigenvalues of the associated Hermitian operator.

Ø Collapse of wavefunction: Following a measurement which yields a particular eigenvalue, the system collapses to the corresponding eigenvector - all mixed character of the original state is lost.

Ø Expectation value: If a measurement of an operator is carried out for an ensemble of identical systems, the weighted average of all measurements is called the expectation value of the operator in that state.