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Quantum Mechanics

  • Date Submitted: 01/26/2013 07:49 AM
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Mathematical formulations

Main article: Mathematical formulations of quantum mechanics
See also: Quantum logic
In the mathematically rigorous formulation of quantum mechanics developed by Paul Dirac[12] David Hilbert,[13] and John von Neumann,[14] the possible states of a quantum mechanical system are represented by unit vectors (called "state vectors"). Formally, these reside in a complex separable Hilbert space - variously called the "state space" or the "associated Hilbert space" of the system - that is well defined up to a complex number of norm 1 (the phase factor). In other words, the possible states are points in the projective space of a Hilbert space, usually called the complex projective space. The exact nature of this Hilbert space is dependent on the system - for example, the state space for position and momentum states is the space of square-integrable functions, while the state space for the spin of a single proton is just the product of two complex planes. Each observable is represented by a maximally Hermitian (precisely: by a self-adjoint) linear operator acting on the state space. Each eigenstate of an observable corresponds to an eigenvector of the operator, and the associated eigenvalue corresponds to the value of the observable in that eigenstate. If the operator's spectrum is discrete, the observable can only attain those discrete eigenvalues.
In the formalism of quantum mechanics, the state of a system at a given time is described by a complex wave function, also referred to as state vector in a complex vector space.[15] This abstract mathematical object allows for the calculation of probabilities of outcomes of concrete experiments. For example, it allows one to compute the probability of finding an electron in a particular region around the nucleus at a particular time. Contrary to classical mechanics, one can never make simultaneous predictions of conjugate variables, such as position and momentum, with accuracy. For instance,...

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