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The Principles of Quantum Mechanics (International Series of Monographs on Physics) 4th Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198520115
ISBN-10: 0198520115
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"The standard work in the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics, indispensable both to the advanced student and to the mature research worker, who will always find it a fresh source of knowledge and stimulation." --Nature


"This is the classic text on quantum mechanics. No graduate student of quantum theory should leave it unread"--W.C Schieve, University of Texas


About the Author

Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac OM FRS was an English theoretical physicist who made fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics.
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Product Details

  • Series: International Series of Monographs on Physics (Book 27)
  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press; 4th edition (February 4, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198520115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198520115
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.7 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Dirac's masterpiece surely needs no reviews, but I dare to write one for younger people. This is it! The first chapter alone would be worth of the price. Wonderful insights, not to be found anywhere else, in almost every page. Supremely elegant, yet natural and self-contained. The whole way of writing physics was transformed by this gem of a book. Learn, at Chapter V, what led Feynman to his version of Quantum Mechanics. Schwinger started here too (at fourteen!). Unparalleled.
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Format: Paperback
This book goes all the way back to 1930, the year it was first published, and a time when quantum physics was undergoing rapid development, both in terms of applications and theory. The author was one of the major contributors to these developments, and in this book has outlined his idiosyncratic approach to quantum physics, including relativistic quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics.The author's insight into quantum physics is extraordinary and that makes this book unique among the books on the subject.
The author introduces immediately the principle of superposition as the tour-de-force of quantum theory in chapter 1 after discussing the inadequacy of classical mechanics in explaining the data on specific heat and atomic spectra. The polarization and interference of photons is used to motivate the principle of superposition, and then the concept of a quantum state. The famous Dirac bra-ket formalism is brought in to give the state concept a mathematical formulation. This is followed in chapter 2 by a mathematical formulation of observables, these being operators that act on the kets, with their adjoints operating on the bras. The eigenvalues of these operators are then the physically realizable results of experiments. The author's discussion on the physical interpretation of this formalism is fascinating and should be read by anyone desiring an in-depth understanding of quantum physics.
The formalism up to this point has been purely algebraic, so to apply it to physical problems one needs a representation. This is done in chapter 3, wherein the author also introduces the famous "Dirac delta function". The commutation relations between observables, not of course arising at all in the classical theory, are discussed in chapter 4.
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Format: Paperback
My thoughts on this book... I would elaborate upon "the way Dirac understood QM", since this is wherein lies the primary value in reading this text. No, this book should not be read as an introduction to the subject. Yes, many topics are treated in a manner that would qualify as being terse. What's more, Dirac's writing style can be fairly dry, portions of the opening chapters are a bit tedious, the notation is frequently less than perspicuous, and roughly the last third of the book is more of historical interest than anything else. With all that said, the first seven or so chapters are rightly considered to be classic, and if you've progressed to the point of being able to tackle Dirac, and you understand WHY it is that you should want to, then none of the above difficulties should PREVENT you from doing so. Most people are introduced to QM through the Schrodinger picture, which is useful for building an intuitive feel for the subject. Unfortunately it also lends itself to picturing things in ways that are a little too classical, and at some point one has to make the transition from imagining actual waves evolving in physical space to the idea of state vectors evolving in Hilbert space. Dirac's transformation theory approach is an ideal tool in this regard, and THAT is why you read Dirac's book. You can also find out about delta functions and the operator approach to the HO problem from the horse's mouth, the chapter on perturbation theory is quite good, and there is a frequently cited section on the motion of wave packets. At the right time and given the correct motivation, this is a good book.
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Format: Paperback
The first edition of this book (including bras, kets and all that) was published when the author was 28. Ponder that a bit, you hot-shots who would scrimp on the stars you give this book.

I agree with an earlier reviewer that the first chapter alone justifies buying the book. I've long kept this book on my shelf to remind myself about how beautifully expository prose can be written, and how far I have to go to equal it.

BTW, in my experience it's possible to learn a lot from it about QM even as a first book on the subject, if you know some linear algebra.
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Format: Paperback
First, a disclosure: this was my first QM text. That's right. I picked it up as a sophomore in electrical engineering. This could easily have nipped any hope for a career in research. Rather, I was immediately taken by the undeniable elegance of the exposition. (I distinctly recall my first impression of the discussion on page 9 which is exceptionally lucid on the subject of what QM does and does not tell us about quantized fields, because this is something I had already struggled with unsuccessfully.) Moreover, Dirac reduces QM to what it really is: a few remarkable postulates about how Nature is; and a whole lot of linear algebra. Dirac was arguably a mathematician first and asserted, elsewhere, that it is more important that out theories have beauty than truth in the physical world. Anyone who can at least entertain this notion may gain much from this often overlooked classic, largely free of the pedagogically distracting baggage of wavefunctions. One reviewer has noted that the notation is archaic or cumbersome; I must kindly demur.
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