Physics 221AB

Quantum Mechanics

Fall 2018 and Spring 2019

University of California, Berkeley

Instructor:  Robert Littlejohn
Office:  449 Birge
Office Hours:   Fridays 12:30-1:30
Telephone:  642-1229
TA:  Chris Akers
Office Hours: Thursdays 10-11am, Panic Room (4th Floor Birge)

Lecture:  251 LeConte
Time:  TuTh 6:30-8pm
Discussion Section 101:   Wed 3-4, 3109 Etcheverry
Discussion Section 102:   Tue 4-5, 109 Dwinelle (but will probably change)
Recommended text:   Eugene D. Commins, Quantum Mechanics: An Experimentalist's Approach.
Final Exam:  Oral, Sunday, May 12 to Tuesday, May 21, 2019; 449 Birge.

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 Friday, January 18, 2019, 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.

The prerequisites for 221B are graduate standing and Physics 221A or equivalent. "Graduate standing" implies a graduate student in the physics department, so it will be expected that you have sufficient background in subjects such as classical mechanics, statistical mechanics and electricity and magnetism to do this course. Note that this course also requires a background in special relativity, such as what is taught in Physics 209. Graduate students from other departments are advised that some knowledge of these subjects will be required for Physics 221B. Undergraduates wishing to take this course must make an application by filling out a form that may be obtained from Kathy Lee in the student services offices. The instructor will review these forms and decide on the admission of all undergraduate applicants. To be accepted you must have completed Physics 221A or equivalent, and you must also have had a sufficient number of other upper division physics courses, and you must have done well in all of them.

The grade will be based on homework and a final exam. I am planning an oral final exam this semeter. To obtain full credit for the homework it will be necessary to show some knowledge of the homework problems on the final exam. Later I will ask students to sign up for time slots for the oral during the period May 12 to 21, 2019.

Weekly homework assignments will be made available on this web site (usually) by Saturday of each week, and will be due at 6pm on Friday afternoon of the following week. Homework should be turned in in the 221B homework box on the second floor of LeConte at the entrance to the breezeway that crosses over to Birge Hall.

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.

Lecture notes will be available in one of two forms. By now typed up versions of lecture notes are available for almost all my lectures, but for those lectures without typed notes, I will usually try to supply hand-written notes. There are enough notes that usually it should be possible to get by without taking notes in class. Do not be afraid to interrupt the lecture to ask questions.

Homework assignments will normally be made available on this web site by Friday or Saturday of each week, and will be due at 6pm on Friday of the following week in the 221A homework box on the second floor of LeConte at the entrance to the breezeway that crosses over to Birge Hall. 

Interesting Movies.

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

The Final (Oral) Exam will be given Sunday, May 12 through Tuesday, May 21. The exam will last one hour and ten minutes. It will be held in 449 Birge (my office). Please choose three time slots during that period (in order of preference), and I will give you the time slot highest on your list that is still available. Time slots will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

I will try to break the 70-minute exam period into three or four sessions, each focusing on a topic covered in the semester. However, once a line of questioning is started, it can go anywhere within the material covered during the semester. Oral exams tend to test physical understanding first and computational details second, so let that guide you when you study. Fair topics are anything covered in lecture, reading assignments, or homework. Material covered by the exam will include Notes 27, 28, 29; all of Notes 31 except Sec. 15 (on Koopmans' theorem); all of Notes 32, 33, 35, 36; all of Notes 37 except Sec. 9 (on the transition operator); all of Notes 39; all of Notes 40 except Sec. 16 (on the orbital angular momentum of the field); all of Notes 41, 42 and 43; handwritten notes of April 16 on the Lamb shift; all of notes 44, 45, 46, 47 and 48. You may skip Notes 30, 34, 38.

You may bring a friend to your oral exam, for company and moral support, but it cannot be someone who is scheduled to take the oral exam after you. After you have taken your oral exam, you must not discuss it with anyone in the class before all the exams are finished.

The grades will be on a scale from 1 to 7, but no grades will be assigned until all the exams are completed.

Homework Solutions.


Links to web sites for other courses I have taught.

  • Physics 209, Fall 2002.
  • Physics 250, Fall 2015.