dw's Quantum Mechanics I

Physics 403
Fall 2013, MWF 9:00-9:50, room 126 SciC
Office: room 103 RHSC
Office Hours: TR: 10:00-10:50, W: 11:00-11:50 → But come by any time
phone: 953-5781
email link or send me an anonymous web-based email

SyllabusOther Stuff
Assumed Knowledge
Due Dates
Homework Assignments

Hands-on intro to Mathematica movie
Oregon State M'ma Resource
Mathematica Sampler Notebook
Physics News
AIP Inside Science News
Physics World

NSF-REU Summer Research Program



Versatile QM systems visualizer


Text: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, 2nd edition, by David J. Griffiths. Link to Errata.

This course continues your exposure to the most profound development of twentieth century physics--Quantum Mechanics. It is useful for those planning further work in physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, and mathematics. A large part of what you are asked to do is to "forget" your prejudices of classical physics and evolve a new set of rules for understanding and evaluating physical phenomena. You will also develop a new set of mathematical tools, that is, a different symbolic language for describing physical reality.

Useful information (e.g., homework) will be available through this web page.

If you have a question, please ask it. If you have a comment, please make it. Even an anonymous note under my door or in my mailbox is fine. Communication is the essence of the classroom experience. I am pleased to see you any time you can find me. I encourage you to email me. I usually read my email at home and at the office.

Assumed Knowledge

You should be comfortable with math up through ordinary differential equations, and with the introduction to QM you got in Modern Physics, although this course is accessible to math majors with strong math backgrounds without the Modern Physics.


As an important part of this course we will be use of Mathematica. Computational systems such as Mathematica are very common tools in many fields of science and engineering and the experience you gain in this class will likely be a significant benefit in your further education and in your career. You will be encouraged, and sometimes mandated to work problems using Mathematica in homeworks, quizzes, and tests.


I expect you to have studied the relevant material for each day. Assume that I may give you a short quiz at any time to help motivate you to be prepared for class. The best advice I can give you is come to every class, participate, take good notes, read the book, do the problems and keep up. The most common, and perhaps the deadliest habit is to postpone your assault of the material. You are expected to diligently apply yourself, since it is your future you are working for. Assume that I may give you a short quiz at any time to help motivate you to be prepared for class. The best advice I can give you is come to every class, take good notes, read the book, do the problems, talk with your classmates, and keep up. I know these sound trivial, but they are all too often ignored.

Attendance and Timeliness

Attendance, timeliness and participation are critical to the learning process and an integral part of this course. In general, I believe that absence is its own punishment, that is, you miss things you can't possibly get by going over a classmate's notes. You are responsible for material covered that day. Contact one of your classmates for the notes. Failure to attend class on the day an assignment is assigned or due does not mean that you may turn in a late assignment without penalty. There are certain aspects of the course for which the information can be obtained only in class, thus, a student who misses class will miss material they will need on quizzes and tests.

To document an absence for any class

If you are late or miss class I may assign you extra homework to help you get focused.

A key word in education is responsibility. I have responsibilities as the instructor. You have responsibilities to yourself, me, and the class. One responsibility is to be in class every day and be there on time. As a student it is your job. Another is to read the day's reading before class. Also please do not think it is my job or my responsibility to teach you. IT IS NOT. It is my job to create an environment in which you can teach yourself. The goal of education is to empower the individual student to be self-taught. I can't really do this for you, but I can help a lot.

Learning Outcomes

Due Dates

Assignments I may give are due at the beginning of class on the assigned day. Late assignments may be accepted, at my whim, but will ordinarily be penalized with a lowered grade and/or by assigning further work.


homework assignments.
I assign homework, and you should do it. You shouldn't be surprised to see very similar items on quizzes or tests. I may work the problems, or very similar ones in class, or even ask you to come up and tell the class about a homework problem.

Work problems neatly. Put your name on the top right corner on the back of the page. Neatness counts. Computer help such as Mathematica is appropriate, just be sure you print out your worksheet and turn it in with your assignment.

Be prepared to consider the following points on your homework:


I expect we will have two tests during the semester, plus the final exam. I anticipate giving a test covering chapters 1-2, then another covering chapters 3-4. We will also cover some material in chapters, 5, 6, and 7, but that material will be tested on the final exam. Tests may include problems, graphs, sketches, explanations, and some mandated Mathematica. I generally do not have multiple choice or true/false questions, although on the final exam there will be several GRE-type multiple choice problems. If you question your score on graded work you must bring it to my attention within 24 hours after they were handed back in class. I may at any time, without prior notice, prohibit the use of calculators on any quiz or exam. Of course, I won't expect the impossible if I do so. Calculations would be those reasonably expected to be do-able by hand.

I may give pop quizzes without notice. If you keep up on your homework and reading assignments you should have little difficulty with the quizzes. There will be no makeup quizzes.

FINAL EXAM: Monday, 9 December 2013, 8:00-11:00 am.


I assign letter grades to tests when I return them to you. I encourage you to see me at any time for my assessment of your work. Below are the relative weights of the pieces of your semester grade.

Homework 15%
Tests and Pop Quizzes, and special assignments 55%
Final Exam 30%

Disposal of submitted work
I will dispose of old, unclaimed quizzes and tests about a month into the next semester, so if you want them, please contact me. Final exams I keep for a couple of years, but you can look at them if you want.
updated 18 Sep 2013 - jlw