Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session

Recommended Text

Cohen-Tannoudji, Diu, and Laloë. Quantum Mechanics. Vols. 1 and 2.

Library Reserve Text

Merzbacher. Quantum Mechanics.
Tinkham. Group Theory and Quantum Mechanics.
Golding. Applied Wave Mechanics.
Condon, and Shortley. The Theory of Atomic Spectra.
Karplus, and Porter. Atoms and Molecules.


  • Homework (weekly): 40% (~ten problem sets)
  • One Exam: 40% (open-book, take home)
  • In-Class Quizzes: 20% (approximately 30)

Tentative Exam Hand-in Date: Lecture 40

Course Overview

This is a course for users rather than admirers of Quantum Mechanics. It will wind its way,with a minimum of elegance and philosophical correctness, through a progression of increasingly complex (mostly) time-independent problems. We will begin with one-dimensional problems, treated in the Schrödinger Ψ(x) wavefunction picture. Then Dirac's bra-ket notation will be introduced and we will switch permanently to Heisenberg's matrix mechanics picture. In matrix mechanics all information resides in a collection of numbers called "matrix elements" and all sorts of trickery will be developed to find ways of deriving the values of all matrix elements without ever actually evaluating any integrals! One can never underestimate the importance of Perturbation Theory. Armed with matrices, we will turn to 3-D central force (spherical symmetry) problems, and discover that for all spherical systems (atoms), the angular factors of all matrix elements are trivially evaluable without approximation. Key topics are commutation rule definitions of scalar, vector, and spherical tensor operators, the Wigner-Eckart theorem, and 3-j (Clebsch-Gordan) coefficients. Finally, we deal with many-body systems, exemplified by many-electron atoms ("electronic structure"), anharmonically coupled harmonic oscillators ("Intramolecular Vibrational Redistribution: IVR"), and periodic solids.

The text is Quantum Mechanics, Volumes 1 and 2, by C. Cohen-Tannoudji, B. Diu, and F. Laloë (CTDL). The point of view of the text is quite different from the lectures (the text is more elegant, analytical, and logical). Reading assignments are intended to complement the lectures. Most homework, but few exam problems, will be based on the CTDL text. Additional reading material will be handed out in class, much of which is notes prepared almost 50 years ago by Professor Dudley Herschbach of Harvard University (while he was an Assistant Professor at Berkeley).

There will be approximately ten weekly problem sets, ~30 in-class 5-minute quizzes, and one take-home, open-book exam. A key difference between problems and the exam is that out-of-class discussion of the problems, but not of the exam, is expected. Problem sets should be handed in at the start of class on the specified due date and will be graded. Course grades will be determined by the average of the ten problem set grades (40%), the exam (40%) and approximately 30 in-class quizzes (20%). The quizzes are intended to exercise important concepts or techniques immediately after they are introduced.