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PHYS 517 A: Quantum Mechanics

TTh 9:30am - 10:50am / * *
F 10:30am - 11:20am / * *
Stephen R. Sharpe

Syllabus Description:

Prof. Steve Sharpe (

Tu Th 9:30-10:50 &  F 10:30-11:20 (remote)

Office hours: Tu Th 1-2pm (remote)

TAs: Isaac Shelby (, Zack Draper ( & Zeeshawn Kazi (

TA office hours: Th F 3-4pm (remote)

(TA office hours begin in the first full week of classes. Times may vary somewhat week to week due to TA conflicts; any changes will be announced.)

Welcome to PHYS 517 (Autumn 2020)! This is the first quarter of the year-long graduate QM sequence. For information about texts, homeworks, exams and grading see Course Information Phys 517 (which is also on the "Pages" link). 

Instruction and office hours will be remote, using Zoom (links above). Exams will also be conducted remotely.

The schedule below is that followed last year, and may be slightly changed this year. We will adapt and update as we progress through the quarter. In particular, I expect that Fridays will mostly be used for lectures---covering spill-over from material that we did not have time to cover in the Tuesday & Thursday sessions. Some may be used for review before exams.

The only holiday this quarter that occurs during lecture time is Thanksgiving (Thursday/Friday Nov. 26/27th).

My aim this quarter is to cover Sakurai & Napolitano (SN) Chapters 1 & 2, with additional material included as needed. The general topics that I aim to  cover are listed below. Note that I will not follow SN's development or order precisely. 

  • Postulates of QM using Stern-Gerlach experiment and spin as a prototypical example.
  • Quantum kinematics: Inner-product spaces; Dirac notation; Operators; Unitary Transformations; Standard measurement theory.
  • Continuous various: x, p . Wave packets.
  • Time evolution; Schrödinger and Heisenberg representations.
  • Simple harmonic oscillator. Parity operator. Coherent and squeezed states.
  • 1-dim Schrödinger problems, bound and unbound.
  • WKB approximation and relation to Hamilton-Jacobi equation in classical mechanics.
  • Path integral representation of QM
  • Electric and magnetic fields. Gauge invariance and Aharanov-Bohm effect.

The detailed lecture-by-lecture coverage will emerge as the quarter progresses. I plan to post detailed lecture notes before each lecture; these can be accessed from the daily links below.

Code of Conduct (excerpted from Physics Department Code of Conduct)

``Creating a supportive environment to foster academic and scientific progress and ensuring that all members of the department have access to a safe working and learning environment is a collective responsibility.  Should unprofessional or inappropriate actions or comments be observed or experienced, direct intervention calling attention to the problematic behavior is often the best response.  If that does not feel appropriate or safe, one should contact Physics Student Services, one’s supervisor, the Physics Ombud, and/or SafeCampus to help determine and effect an appropriate response.''

As appropriate, please feel free to bring up issues with me, either in person, by email, or via an anonymous  comment.

UW student code of conduct is here.

Religious Accommodations

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 Faculty Syllabus Guidelines and Resources. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations form,  available here.

Catalog Description: 
First of a three-part sequence. Modern non-relativistic quantum mechanics developed, beginning with its basic principles. Dirac and abstract operator notation introduced, starting with simple examples. Offered: A.
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
June 28, 2020 - 9:22pm