Encyclopedia > Mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics

  Article Content

Mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics

The postulates of quantum mechanics, written in the bra-ket notation, are as follows:

  1. The state of a quantum-mechanical system is represented by a unit vector, called a state vector, in a complex separable Hilbert space.

  2. An observable is represented by a Hermitian linear operator in that space.

  3. When a system is in a state |ψ⟩, a measurement of an observable A produces an eigenvalue a with probability


    where |a⟩ is the eigenvector with eigenvalue a. After the measurement is conducted, the state is |a⟩.

  4. There is a distinguished observable H, known as the Hamiltonian, corresponding to the energy of the system. The time evolution of the state vector |ψ(t)⟩ is given by the Schrödinger equation:

    i (h/2π) d/dt |ψ(t)⟩ = H |ψ(t)⟩

In this framework, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle becomes a theorem about noncommuting operators. Furthermore, both continuous and discrete observables may be accommodated; in the former case, the Hilbert space is a space of square-integrable wavefunctions.

In the Everett many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, postulate (3) is demoted to a phenomenological principle; see quantum decoherence.

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
Grateful Dead

... adventure and a continuous quest for the "musical unknown"; more often than not, exploration and a search for continual newness were the hallmarks of their liv ...

This page was created in 30.2 ms