Physics 221A

Quantum Mechanics

Fall 2010

University of California, Berkeley

Instructor:  Robert Littlejohn
Office:  449 Birge
Office Hours:   Friday 1-2
Telephone:  642-1229
TA:  Austin Hedeman, Office Hours Friday 2-3, Room 432 Birge

Lecture:  325 LeConte
Time:  MWF 9-10
Discussion Section 1:   cancelled
Discussion Section 2:   Th 3-4, 4 Evans
Recommended text:   J. J. Sakurai, Modern Quantum Mechanics, Revised Edition (Addison-Wesley, New York, 1994)
Final Exam:  Thursday, December 16, 7-10pm
Location: 325 LeConte

Organization and Logistics

The email address for this course is   Use this to send me emails if you have any questions etc. Also, I maintain an email mailing list for the course, and use it to send out announcements, corrections to homework assignments, etc back to you. If you received an email from me on Thursday, Aug 26, then you are on the email mailing list and do not need to do anything. If you did not receive an email from me, then send an email to the course email address (above) and ask to be added to the mailing list (you do not need to be enrolled). If you drop the course or don't want to receive any more announcements, send an email to this address with a request to be dropped. 

The course web site (this site) will be used to post lecture notes, special notes, homework assignments, and homework solutions.

There will be no discussion section during the first week. I will probably cancel discussion section 1, and rely on the Thursday section plus office hours to cover your needs. I will schedule my office hour and, if necessary, the discussion section so the maximum number of students can attend at least one.

I will be out of town at least twice this semester. I will either have a substitute lecturer those weeks, or else schedule makeups.

Prerequisites for this course include graduate standing and a full year of undergraduate quantum mechanics. Students who do not have this background are required to get instructor's approval before enrolling. In particular, this applies to all undergraduates wishing to take the course.

The grade will be based on homework and a final exam. Please keep the exam time open (please plan to be in Berkeley at that time).

Weekly homework assignments will be made available on this web site (usually) by Friday or Saturday of each week, and will be due at 5pm on Friday afternoon of the following week. Homework should be turned in in the 221A homework box in 251 LeConte (the reading room).

Late homeworks will be accepted up to one week late at 50% credit. Homeworks more than one week late will not be accepted. Please do not ask the reader to take late homeworks. Exception: Each student is allowed one free late homework (up to one week late) during the semester, no questions asked.

Students are encouraged to work together on homework, and to trade ideas. There is no better way to learn. However, it is expected that the work you turn in is your own work in your own words. It is not legal just to copy someone else's solutions. It is also strictly illegal to look at or use solutions from any previous version of this course from earlier years. You can't find those solutions anyway without going to some trouble.

The text for the course, Modern Quantum Mechanics, by J. J. Sakurai, was chosen because of its good selection of topics and because of the generally deep perspective it takes in developing the subject. Unfortunately, the explanations in the book are often poor and sometimes wrong; this seems to be due to the fact that Sakurai died before he could put his book into order. (His other book, Advanced Quantum Mechanics, which we will use in Physics 221B, is much better.) To make up for these deficiencies, most weeks there will be lecture notes made available which will supplement the readings from the text.

The content of Physics 221A is mostly a review of undergraduate quantum mechanics, presented from a deeper point of view and with a different emphasis. Some new topics are also presented. Physics 221B presents much new material, including an introduction to field theory and relativistic quantum mechanics. The course will have an emphasis on atomic physics that gradually turns into particle physics.

Lecture notes will be available in one of two forms. For some lectures I have typed-up notes. For those lectures without typed notes, I will usually try to supply hand-written notes, although I don't guarantee how closely they will follow the actual lectures. Nevertheless, it should be possible to get by without taking notes in class. Do not be afraid to interrupt the lecture to ask questions.

Videos of some lectures are becoming available thanks to the efforts of Daniel Schuldman and Greg Bollonton. Initial tests by Daniel and Greg indicate that the movies play well under Windows with Windows Media Player and VLC. On the Mac, they are reported to play well under Quicktime and VLC. Under Linux, I found that they played well with Totem but not so well under VLC. Try it yourself, and let me know if you have difficulties.

The video file for each lecture is approximately 350-400MB. They are in .mp4 format. Streaming may not be possible, especially if several people are trying to do it at the same time, due to the limited bandwidth of the server. Time will tell how it all works, but in the meantime it will probably be necessary to download the video before viewing. Download times are unknown at this point, but certainly depend on how many people are trying to download at once. The videos for the entire semester should occupy about 12GB of disk space. If you want to download the videos, please spread it out over the whole semester, and don't wait to the last week.

I may get some flash drives and load the videos onto them. Then I could loan them to anyone who wants to copy them to a home computer. It would be much faster than downloading.

Homework assignments will normally be made available on this web site by Friday or Saturday of each week, and will be due at 5pm on Friday of the following week in the 221A homework box in 251 LeConte (the reading room). 

Typed lecture notes are available for some lectures, not others.

Homework Solutions for Fall 2010.


Extra Notes.