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PHYS 225 A: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

Meeting Time: 
TTh 9:00am - 10:20am
GLD 322
Jason Detwiler Portrait
Jason Detwiler

Syllabus Description:

TTh 9:00-10:20, GLD 322

Instructor: Jason Detwiler (
Office: PAB B444
Office Hours: Wednesdays 1-2 pm, Thursdays 10:30-11:30 am (PAB B444)

TAs: Jesse Ashworth, Burak Catli, John Spencer

This course is an introduction to quantum mechanics (QM). Students confront reality's quantum strangeness, starting with the simplest 2-state systems that exhibit quantum behavior. After an exposition of the fundamental principles of QM, we explore some of its applications as well as some of its more mind-bending aspects. We finish by introducing position-space notation (wavefunctions) and Schrodinger's wave equation, preparing students for subsequent courses which use the wave equation as a starting point.

Course goals:

  • Build a deep understanding of the principles of QM.
  • Gain facility with the mathematical apparatus, concepts, and notations used in QM.
  • Provide the essential background required for understanding references to QM and quantum behavior appearing in seminars and colloquia, in news and research articles, and in pop culture in general.

The textbook for this course is a special UW paperback edition of selected chapters from David McIntyre's Quantum Physics, Pearson, 2012. Additional materials, including additional excerpts from McIntyre, will be posted as needed.

Pre-Lecture Questions:
Pre-lecture questions will be posted to Canvas and will be due by 8pm the night before lecture for full credit; half-credit will be awarded through the start of lecture.

In-Class Questions:
In-class questions will use Poll Everywhere. 80% of your score is based on completeness / participation, while the remaining 20% is based on correctness. You only need to get 80% of the total available points to receive full credit. This is to accommodate technical difficulties, absences, etc.

Weekly Homework Sets:
Homework assignments will be posted to Canvas and are due at the start of class on the assigned due date. You may either hand in a hardcopy at the start of class, or post a pdf or photos of your solutions to Canvas. Late homework may only be submitted online and is penalized at 25% per day for two days (including weekends and holidays), after which time solutions will be posted and no further credit is available. One to three problems will be graded at random. See below for regrade policy.

Exams, Worksheets, and Drills:
There will be two midterms and one final exam. You will be allowed to bring one 8.5x11" page of your own hand-written notes (you may use both sides) as well as a non-web-enabled calculator to exams. See below for regrade policy.

In some lectures we will do tutorial-style worksheets provided by the department's Physics Educational Group (PEG). Worksheets will be handed out in class; absentees can pick up copies during office hours or from the PEG group.

Optional drill worksheets with solutions will be posted to Canvas for those who want / need more practice. Do these on your own if you want.

Your course grade will be computed from the following elements:

  • Two midterm exams: 19% each (38% total)
  • Final exam: 22%
  • Homework assignments: 20%
  • Pre-lecture quizzes, surveys, and other online assignments: 10%
  • In-class assignments (such as clicker questions and worksheets): 10%

Regrade requests for homework or exams can be made for up to 1 week after the hardcopies are handed back in class. Your regrade request should be submitted directly to the relevant grader by email (whose contact info is posted on the corresponding homework or exam page in canvas), and should clearly state your argument, referring to the solution set as necessary.

Classroom Rules and Courtesies

Everyone with an interest in learning physics is welcome in this class. Science is for everyone, irrespective of age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, creed, or nationality. Diversity of outlook and experiences strengthens science and accelerates its progress. In this class, we aim to provide a welcoming and supportive learning environment for all students.

We have ~200 students in this class, and that requires a few common sense rules to help everyone learn:

  • Please wait for the previous class to leave before you try to enter the room.
  • Please fill in to the center of the seat rows. We want to avoid having late-arriving students climbing over you and/or sitting in the aisles.
  • Please avoid wearing intense fragrances. In a class this size there is bound to be at least a few students who are very sensitive to perfumes.
  • Please do not talk with each other during class unless we have explicitly taken a break for you to work on problems and/or discuss things with your neighbor.
  • Please refrain from doing non-class-related work, email, browsing, etc., during lecture as it can be very distracting, especially to those students sitting behind you.
  • If you know you will need to leave class early, please choose a seat near the aisle in the back of the room.
  • To encourage everyone to participate in classroom discussions, I use random-calling tools for soliciting answers to questions. Please do your best to answer when called upon.
  • Above all, please be respectful toward each other.

Access and Accommodations

Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW's policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.

If you are a student athlete or musician with schedule conflicts, or have other essential conflicts (presenting at a research conference, job interview, etc.) please contact Prof. Detwiler well in advance of the expected conflicts

Reporting Classroom Issues

If you have an issue with how class is being conducted, or with the actions of a professor, teaching assistant, or peer, note that most classroom issues result from misunderstandings that can be clarified by discussing them with your instructor, either singly or as a group. If you either do not feel comfortable bringing the issue to the instructor directly or are not satisfied with your instructor's response, please contact Physics Student Services. Academic Counselors Margot Nims and Catherine Provost are well-versed in resources for dealing with classroom and interpersonal issues, as well as in helping you evaluate their severity. If you wish a complaint to remain anonymous as it is being reported to Prof. Olmstead (the Physics undergraduate faculty advisor), Prof. Heckel (the department chair), Safe Campus (see below), or other campus resources, Margot and Catherine will respect your request. You are also welcome to come directly to Prof. Olmstead, who will maintain your anonymity while discussing any information with the chair and/or the instructor; you may also directly contact the department chair, Prof. Heckel.

For more serious concerns and conflicts, the following campus resources are available:

  • Safe Campus: for advice and resources on safety and violence prevention, or to report a threat or concerning behavior, contact Safe Campus at 206-685-SAFE or Physics Department Student Services passes on all reports of threats or concerning behavior to Safe Campus, maintaining anonymity if requested.
  • Community Standards and Student Conduct: for reporting student misconduct
  • Title IX: for reporting discrimination on the basis of sex
  • Office of the Ombud: when you are not sure who to go to or what to do
Catalog Description: 
Emphasizes two-state systems. Introduces spin and applications in nuclear magnetic resonance. Prerequisite: a minimum grade of 2.0 in either PHYS 227, MATH 136, both MATH 207 and MATH 208, both MATH 307 and MATH 308, or both AMATH 351 and AMATH 352. Offered: WS.
GE Requirements: 
Natural Sciences (NSc)
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
October 15, 2023 - 9:59pm