chapter  6
- Matrix Mechanics
Pages 24

The quantum theoretical description of microscopic systems discussed so far is based on differential operators and the solution of the underlying eigenvalue equations. This approach is called Schrödinger approach or wave mechanics. Heisenberg developed another equivalent approach called matrix mechanics. Because the trajectory of an electron is unobservable and moreover line spectra implied discrete allowed states, Heisenberg discarded the idea of electron orbits and formulated a theory for line spectra of excited systems based on observables. When Heisenberg arranged the allowed set of transitions in a matrix form, to his surprise, each element of the matrix was found to be related to the probability of a particular transition. This gave the birth to matrix mechanics. Then Heisenberg, Born and Jordan worked out the rules of these matrices.