Quantum Mechanics, Vol. 1
Structure and level of this text
It is hardly necessary to emphasize the importance of quantum mechanics in modern physics and chemistry. Current university programs naturally reflect this importance. In French universities, for example, an essentially qualitative introduction to fundamental quantum mechanical ideas is given in the second year. In the final year of the undergraduate physics program, basic quantum mechanics and its most important applications are studied in detail.
This book is the direct result of several years of teaching quantum mechanics in the final year of the undergraduate program, first in two parallel courses at the Faculte des Sciences in Paris and then at the Universites Paris VI and Paris VII. We felt it to be important to mark a clear separation, in the structure of this book, between the two different but complementary aspects (lectures and recitations) of the courses given during this time. This is why we have divided this text into two distinct parts (see the “Directions for Use” at the beginning of the book). On the one hand, the chapters are based on the lectures given in the two courses, which we compared, discussed and expanded before writing the final version. On the other hand, the “complements” grew out of the recitations, exercises and problems given to the students, and reports that some of them prepared. Ideas also came from other courses given under other circumstances or at other levels (particularly in the graduate programs). As we pointed out in the “Directions for Use”, the chapters as a whole constitute, more or less, a course we would envisage teaching to fourth-year college students or those whose level is equivalent. However, the complements are not intended to be treated in a single year. The reader, teacher or student, must choose between them in accordance with his interests, tastes and goals.
Throughout the writing of this book, our constant concern has been to address ourselves to students majoring in physics, like those we have taught over the past several years. Except in a few complements, we have not overstepped those limits. In addition, we have endeavored to take into account what we have seen of students’difficulties in understanding and assimilating quantum mechanics, as well as their questions. We hope, of course, that this book will also be of use to other readers such as graduate students, beginning research workers and secondary school teachers.
The reader is not required to be familiar with quantum physics : few of our students were. However, we do think that the quantum mechanics course we propose (see “General approach”, below) should be supplemented by a more descriptive and more experimentally oriented course, in atomic physics for example.
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