chapter  3
- Operators, Eigenvalues and Eigenfunctions
Pages 26

A basic quantity in quantum mechanics is the wave function ψ. Given a quantum mechanical system we write the Schrödinger equation for it. Its solution is the wave function. When introducing the wave function we stated that the maximum information about the state of a system can be obtained only from ψ. How do we extract observable properties of the system from the wave function? In quantum mechanics for every classical dynamical variable there exists an operator. For example, the operator of momentum p is −i~∇ while the operator of energy variable H = p2/(2m)+V (X) is −(~2/2m)∇2+V (X). Operation of an operator on ψ gives another function. If the new function is λψ, then λ is the eigenvalue of the operator. For example, the energy of a particle in a particular state represented by ψ can be obtained by operating H on ψ. That is, we have Hψ = Eψ where E is the energy eigenvalue. The expectation value of A(X,p) can be obtained from the formula

〈A〉 = ∫ ∞ −∞

ψ∗Aψ dτ , (3.1)

where ψ is the solution of the equation Hψ = Eψ. Operators in quantum mechanics which represent observables are of a spe-

cial type: They are linear and Hermitian. Such operators not only form computation tools, but also form the most effective language in terms of which the theory can be formulated. The fascinating point is that using linear operators we can understand the quantum mechanics. Therefore, it is important to study the basic theory of linear operators. In this chapter, we present important properties of linear operators and their eigenfunctions. We discuss the features of various operators which are necessary for studying quantum

and ematical structure of quantum mechanics is.