Best Quantum Mechanics text

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Best Quantum Mechanics text

Postby willigorilla » Fri Apr 01, 2005 12:57 am

Could someone help me by recommending an undergrad and grad Quantum mechanics book? It must convey the principles very well.

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Postby jcain6 » Fri Apr 01, 2005 11:08 am

I like David Griffith's Intro to Quantum Mechanics.

Luke Luck
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Postby Luke Luck » Sat Apr 02, 2005 1:11 am

I used Griffiths as an undergrad and I thought it was a pretty good way to start.

Shankar's Principles of Quantum Mechanics is well written, but it takes several chapters before you get any QM. He goes through the formulism and a review of classical mechanics first, where Griffiths jumps into solving Schrodinger's Equation on page 1. If your classical mechanics is solid and you have lots of time, then Shankar would be worth checking out after Griffiths.

My major complaint about Shankar is that he doesn't have any pictures or graphs - maybe a couple wavefunctions in the entire text. But if you work through it, you'll have a solid foundation in QM.

At the graduate level, Sakurai's Modern Quantum Mechanics is pretty good as well.

If you don't have lots of time, then skip Shankar; just read Griffiths and Sakurai.

Any decent university library should have all of these. The best way to find a book you like is to look through a dozen of them. Good luck, and let us know which book(s) you choose.

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Postby darkhorse » Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:16 am

I am a big Griffiths fan. I also remember reading that he was on the physics gre exam committee for a while.

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Sakurai is really different

Postby Icu » Wed Jul 13, 2005 9:33 pm


If you need a compltely different approch to QM, then you must study Sakurai. There are a lot of exercises at the end of each chapter. Really good. But need to spent some time studying some elementary things using Shankar or Grifffiths or Schiff. Some of the solutions of sakurai are available in the internet. But some of them are really difficult.
So good luck !

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Postby jupiter_dubois » Tue Mar 07, 2006 10:57 pm

I highly recommend Shankar. I find that his presentation of calculating probabilities, eigenfunctions, and the H atom (really all that is covered on the physics GRE) is very clear. I used Griffiths for a previous class and his intial lack of bra-ket notation really tripped me up.

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Postby yosofun » Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:47 am

i first approached quantum mechanics believing that the course was all about *understanding*. however, most (if not all) upper division and graduate courses tend to stress problem solving instead of truly *understanding* quantum mechanics. (by understanding, i mean understanding exactly why it is, not how to calculate a bunch of things and learning the beautiful math underlying modern QM. "understanding" might involve philosophical digressions on schrodinger's cat, bell's inequality, etc. griffiths has a nice 5 pages on that, but he leaves you starving for more.)

so, since the courses stress problem solving, the way to acing the course (and exams, and the quantum portion of the gre physics exam) is to *learn the math.* once you've learned the math, the so-called "postulates" are often trivial.

*the math* is most easily learned by solving problems. therefore, i suggest three textbooks that emphasize on problem-solving:

1. Textbook that comes with a few hundred solve problems and over 60 exercises for you to solve independently (isbn=0471489441)

2. Solved Problems Book (isbn=9810231334)

3. Another Solved Problems Book (isbn=0521378508)

also, Baym and Sakurai are good for symmetries in quantum mechanics (and short-cuts in perturbation theory)

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QM Book

Postby abc123 » Wed Mar 08, 2006 7:32 pm

I must be honest. If you use Griffiths QM book you wil not be well prepared for further studies at a GOOD graduate school. Shankar's PRinciples of Quatum Mechanics is extremely easy to undrstand. At the same it will give you the kind of undrestanding of the fundemental structure of the theory that will make transitioning into more advanced courses a breeze.

Sakuri is also one of my favorites. Try reading them in cunjunction.

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Postby Ingrid » Sun Apr 02, 2006 6:54 pm

While I have a real soft spot for Griffiths, my caveat is that Griffiths is less suitable if you're learning on your own. Often VERY EXCITING AND IMPORTANT THINGS come up in the derive something of :+:great impact:+: and, if you're new to QM, you really need a tuned-in instructor to point out the significant bits and tell you what you ought to remember as it pops up later.

Also, I think it can be difficult for the first-time Griffiths user to really apply the QM presented to real things or encounters all these potentials but sometimes it helps to have someone poke you in the chest and say, "HEY, all that math you've been slaving over for the past two hours--y'know what that is? It's an electron trying to escape an atom!"

Two books which may be of use are 'Quantum Mechanics: A Modern Introduction' (Ashok Das & Adrian C Melissinos) and 'Quantum Physics' (Gasiorowicz). When you get your bearings in the quantum universe, 'The Picturebook of Quantum Mechanics' can be quite a good book as well.

I started with Griffiths, and his book is great for giving a concise overview of the mathematics involved, but make sure you complement it with *something* that goes into details about applications and experiments. (For example, Davisson & Germer, Breit-Wigner, the Stark Effect, the Hall Effect, and Wentzer-Kramers-Brillouin have all been involved in questions in past papers.)

I have a few other resources that I'll try to fish out if it would be useful. In the meantime, good luck and happy reading!


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You guys like Griffiths?

Postby Quantum » Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:38 am

I have to disagree with some of you about undergrad texts by Griffiths. When I was an undergrad, I had courses that used "Intro to Electrodynamics" (for my E+M class) and "Intro to QM" (for my QM class) by Griffiths. I was not all that impressed.

First let me say that I think Griffiths is a highly intelligent person and definitely gifted in physics. However, my biggest complaint about his texts is that while he is aiming to write them for students learning the aforementioned subjects for the first (or second) time, he fails miserably. He provides little examples, most of which are just very basic, and then asks you to do problems that go far beyond those examples. Now don't get me wrong, taking things to the next level is highly important (and required if you expect to be successful in physics in any way), but I think it would be more appropriate to first give students practice at the elementary level rather than hitting them with more advanced problems. The advanced problems are highly important of course, but not until you have completely mastered the basic concepts.

In addition, Griffiths provides answers to only a few randomly picked exercises in the text, and no solutions to any of the problems. Unless you're sly enough to have a copy of the "Instructor's Solutions Manual", you will find it difficult to check your work and thus gauge your understanding of the material.

Also, Griffiths likes to leave a lot of the important results to be discovered in the exercises (mind you, the ones he provides few answers and no solutions to). Some people may think that is worthwhile, as you are forced to discover such entities on your own. But on the other hand, as an author, I think it is HIS job to present and illustrate at least MOST of the important results. Let's be realistic, no one is going to do EVERY problem in his book. And for reference purposes, when I wish to look up a significant result, I would like to have it handy. I don't want to have to solve problem 3.40 (for example) to get it.

I think the best part about Griffiths' books is the occasional humorisms he throws in every now and then. Other than that, I can't say much in favor of his texts. For QM, you'd be better off getting Shankar's "Principles of QM" even if you're an undergrad.

Well that is my opinion, and I realize everyone has their own tastes and preferences. I now use my old Griffiths texts as doorstops. =D
Last edited by Quantum on Tue Nov 21, 2006 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby dheera » Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:09 pm

heh. do griffiths problem 6.10

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Postby Richter » Sat Dec 23, 2006 3:05 am

From my point of view, QM is something weird.... It is not difficult to learn techniques in handling QM problems: Infinite well, SHO, hydrogen atom, etc, they are just mathematics, and these mathematics appears in other fields, like classical mechanics and E&M. What is the most intriguing is that you have to accept something which is out of our personal experience's scope: particles behave like wave in microscopic world! Yet it is so successful in its application, which defies efforts by great physicists like Einstein to disprove it.

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Postby Jia » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:36 am

It has to be, in my mind, The Principles of Quantum Mechanics, by Dirac.
I just love the way Dirac presenting QM. It's elegant and inspiring.
Also, it is not a good choice for a novice.

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Postby twistor » Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:46 am

Well, my personal favorite is David Bohm's Quantum Theory. It's available from Dover books and it's pretty cheap (something like $20). He doesn't use modern notations like bra-ket notation but he has the most thorough explanations of quantum mechanics concepts I've seen in any book. If you read through it, you'll find how the Schrodinger equation is actually extrapolated (I hesitate to use the word derived, because you can't really derive it in the mathematical sense) from experiments and things required to make the theory consistent. It has a solid introduction to wave mechanics and the concepts behind matrix mechanics. I think that by reading through it I have a much greater appreciation for the foundations of the theory.

I also have to say that I've gone through the first couple of chapters of Shankar, and really hated it. I find Shankar's presentation weak because he doesn't stress any of the concepts, just the mathematics. That's a shame because that type of presentation gives the idea that quantum mechanics is something that you can derive from linear algebra and probability. Overall I don't think I got much out of Shankar and Griffiths didn't do a better job explaining.

Also, there's a book by Peter Fong called Elementary Quantum Mechanics that I really liked. Fong takes a unique approach to developing quantum mechanics by developing wave mechanics from classical mechanics plus an additional parameter called H. When you set the classical H to Planck's constant h, you get QM!!

I think my background in senior level E&M and classical really helped reading Bohm and CM (particularly the action principal) is also requisite for the Fong book. Overall though, I think if you want to understand QM and not just linear algebra (which is done much better in math books) than those are my favorite picks.

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Postby isainianuj » Thu Dec 20, 2007 10:54 am

I feel that Cohen-Tanuadji is an excellent textbook for Quantum Mechanics... One of the best texts....

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Re: Best Quantum Mechanics text

Postby omephy » Sat Nov 26, 2011 3:18 pm

Read the first two chapters from Griffiths and then go for Shankar. Besides, use Zetilli for examples and problems. Then if you want you may go for Sakurai. On the other hand, yet it is not coherent, for electrodynamics, you may use Hayt's Engineering Electromagnetics: Lucid and rich. You had better solve the EM probs from Griffiths's ED before going to Jackson.

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