PHY 4604 Introductory Quantum Mechanics 1 — Fall 2022

Class Meetings    Mon, Wed, Fri period 3 (9:35–10:25 a.m.) in NPB 1002
Instructor    Prof. Kevin Ingersent, NPB 2162, 392-8748,
Office Hours Mon, Wed, Fri 10:30–11:00 a.m. (NPB 2162); Tue 11:00 a.m.–noon (Zoom); Thu 2:00–3:00 p.m. (Zoom); or by appointment. See Canvas "Syllabus" for Zoom link and "Announcements" for any office hour changes
Canvas Course Site Login at
Course Prerequisites (PHY 3101 or PHY 3063) and MAP 2302, or equivalent
Required Text   Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, David J. Griffiths and Darrell F. Schroeter (3rd ed., Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Summary: PHY 4604 is the first course of the two-semester introductory quantum mechanics sequence PHY 4604–4605. The course introduces the basic concepts of wave mechanics, the formalism of quantum mechanics, and applications to atomic, molecular, and condensed matter physics.

Objectives: On completion of this course, you should have a sound understanding of key concepts in quantum mechanics, and be able to apply this understanding to analyze, and make both qualitative and quantitative predictions about, the physics of unfamiliar situations. The course should also improve your problem-solving skills.

Prerequisites: You should have successfully completed a college-level course in modern physics at the level of PHY 3101 Introduction to Modern Physics or PHY 3063 Enriched Modern Physics. You should also have passed MAP 2302 Elementary Differential Equations. If you are in doubt as to whether you should take PHY 4604, please consult the instructor as soon as possible.

Required Text: Griffiths & Schroeter is a good introductory quantum mechanics text. You do not necessarily need to purchase your own individual copy, but you will need access to the book to supplement the lectures, to complete reading assignments, and as a source of practice problems.

Supplementary Resources: Aspects of quantum mechanics run counter to the intuition we develop based on our interactions with macroscopic objects in everyday life. It usually takes some time to get comfortable with the transition from a fully deterministic classical description of the world to a probabilistic or statistical quantum-mechanical description. For this reason, you may well wish to consult other sources to see alternative explanations of the course material. Here are two books and a web site that are worth considering:

Course Policies

Attendance: Attendance is required only for scheduled quizzes and exams. Attendance at other class meetings is strongly recommended. Material not contained in the textbook will be presented and, in some cases, tested in homework and/or exams. If you miss a class, you are responsible for staying informed of the material covered and any announcements made. The Canvas course site (see below) should help with this.

If you are sick, do not come to class. Call your primary care provider if you are ill and need immediate care, or the Student Health Care Center at 352-392-1161 to be evaluated. If you feel well enough to study from home, you can use the Canvas course site and Zoom office hours to keep up with PHY 4604 until you are able to resume attendance.

Requests for excused absences from quizzes or exams will be handled in accordance with UF's attendance policies, and in most cases will require written documentation from an appropriate professional. Any request for a special quiz or exam sitting or for a make-up must be made at least seven days ahead for any scheduled absence, and as soon as reasonably possible for an unforeseen absence. If your absence is excused, you will be given a reasonable amount of time to make up missed work.

Canvas Course Site: Course announcements, lecture notes, homework sets and practice exams, solutions to assessments, and grades will be posted on the Canvas course site. You can set your Canvas preferences to receive email notification of each new course announcement.

Course Communication: The preferred method of electronic communication with the instructor is Canvas Conversations. Email from a student's Gatorlink account is also acceptable provided the message clearly identifies the sender by name. The instructor will endeavor to respond to messages arriving via one of these two routes within one business day. (For example, a message arriving a 4 p.m. on a Friday will normally receive a response by 4 p.m. the following Monday, unless Friday or Monday is a UF holiday.) The instructor will not send messages to students at email addresses outside the domain.

Course Demeanor: It is expected that everyone in this class (the instructor and students) will treat one another with dignity and respect, and will follow rules of common courtesy in all course-related interactions, whether online or face-to-face. UF's Netiquette Guide for Online Courses contains valuable advice for conducting electronic communications. Please refrain from actions (including, but not limited to, intrusive use of electronic devices) that distract others in the classroom.

Homework: Problem solving is integral to mastering any area of physics. There will be 11 homework assignments, and you will also be recommended to attempt other problems from the text. Although the homework is graded, it is intended more as a learning tool than as a means of assessment. To gain maximum benefit, you should make a good-faith attempt to tackle each problem on your own. However, do not spend an inordinate amount of time on any one question. If you get stuck, feel free to discuss your conceptual or technical difficulties with other students or with the instructor. Constructive collaboration is encouraged, but on any assignment submitted for credit, you are required to write up your own final solution and clearly list the names of any and all collaborators and/or solution sources. Providing such a list will not reduce your grade in any way, whereas failure to acknowledge help or copying someone else's work will be treated as an academic honesty violation.

Homework should be submitted on paper and will be due at the start of a class. It is your responsibility to ensure that your homework reaches the instructor. (Don't just leave it in his Physics Department mail slot or push it under his office door.) Students with an excused absence on the due date may submit an assignment electronically to the instructor via Canvas Conversations or email.

Homework assignments turned in late will be subject to a significant scoring penalty. The score will be reduced by 25% for work submitted after the due deadline but no later than the start of the first class after the due date. After that, a 50% deduction will apply. No credit will be awarded for homework submitted after the solution has been posted in Canvas (usually two classes after the due deadline). You may turn in for full credit any question parts that you have completed by the deadline, and later submit additional work for partial credit. However, only the first submitted version of each separate question part [e.g., question 2(c)] will be graded.

The sum of your best 10 homework scores will make up 30% of your overall score on PHY 4604. Since only 10 of 11 homework scores contribute to your grade, you can skip submission of one assignment without penalty. You are advised to keep this "free drop" in reserve, in case of some unforeseen eventuality late in the semester. Homework deadline extensions or makeups will be offered only under very limited circumstances and in accordance with UF's attendance policies.

Quizzes: There will be five short, in-class quizzes (roughly one every two weeks) on dates listed in the course schedule below. The first four quizzes will be based on material covered in recent homework assignments. The last quiz will be a standardized "field test" of basic material covering the entire semester. (This is one of five such tests that must be passed by graduating physics majors as part of the Physics BS and BA Academic Learning Compact.) You will take these quizzes without the help of books, notes, or calculators, so you should be prepared to memorize important equations. More specialized equations may be provided as part of the quiz.

The combined score on the five quizzes will make up 10% of your overall score on PHY 4604. With the exception of the field test, graded quizzes will be returned in class or during office hours, and solutions will be posted in Canvas.

Exams: There will be three 2-hour exams—two mid-terms held on weekday evenings and a final on December 15; see "Schedule" below for details. Each exam will count 20% toward your final course grade. Graded exams will be returned in class or during office hours. Exam solutions will be posted in Canvas.

The exams will emphasize application of physics concepts to solve problems rather than recalling memorized facts or reproducing standard results. The understanding and skills necessary for success on the exams will be developed by steady work over the entire semester, not by last-minute cramming. You will be allowed to use a formula sheet for each exam, and a calculator at the instructor's discretion, but no other aids will be permitted.

Grades: Letter grades will be assigned in accordance with the University's grading policies on the basis of an overall course score constructed as follows:

Best 10 homework scores 30%
Quizzes 10%
Exam 1 20%
Exam 2 20%
Final exam 20%

Guidance as to the likely scale used to convert course scores to letter grades will be provided after each mid-term exam and before the final exam.

Student Complaints Process: Please discuss any concern about the course with the course instructor. If this doesn't lead to a satisfactory resolution, students should contact Department of Physics Chair Prof. Stephen Hagen or the UF Office of the Ombuds.

Schedule: The schedule below lists (1) the topics planned for each lecture, cross-referenced to the text, (2) the planned due-date of each homework assignment, and (3) the date, time, and location of each exam (updated on September 10 with the Registrar's scheduling of the two mid-terms). It is your responsibility to be aware of any changes announced in class. Important announcements will also be posted on the course Web pages.

Week 1 Wed Aug 24 The Schrödinger equation (Sec. 1.1). Statistical interpretation (Sec. 1.2)
Fri Aug 26 Superposition (Sec. 1.2). Probability current (Sec. 1.4, Prob. 1.14)
Week 2 Mon Aug 29 Expectation values and the momentum operator (Secs. 1.3, 1.5)
Wed Aug 31 The uncertainty principle (Sec. 1.6). Stationary states (Sec. 2.1)
Fri Sep 2 HW 1 due at start of class
The infinite square well (Sec. 2.2)
Week 3 Mon Sep 5 No class: Labor Day
Wed Sep 7 The infinite square well (continued)
Fri Sep 9 HW 2 due at start of class
The harmonic oscillator (Sec 2.3)
Week 4 Mon Sep 12 The harmonic oscillator (continued)
Wed Sep 14 The harmonic oscillator (continued)
Fri Sep 16 HW 3 due at start of class
The free particle (Sec 2.4)
Quiz 1 during class
Week 5 Mon Sep 19 The free particle (continued)
Wed Sep 21 Boundary conditions on wave functions (Sec 2.5)
Fri Sep 23 HW 4 due at start of class
The step potential (Prob. 2.34)
Week 6 Mon Sep 26 The step potential (continued)
Wed Sep 28 The rectangular barrier (Prob. 2.33)
Fri Sep 30 HW 5 due at start of class
Delta-function potentials (Sec. 2.5)
Quiz 2 during class
Week 7 Mon Oct 3 The finite square well (Sec. 2.6)
Wed Oct 5 Catch-up/Review
Wed Oct 5 Exam 1: 8:20–10:10 p.m. in NPB 1002
Fri Oct 7 No class: Homecoming
Week 8 Mon Oct 10 Vector spaces (Secs. 3.1, A.1)
Wed Oct 12 Inner products (Secs. 3.1, 3.6, A.2)
Fri Oct 14 HW 6 due at start of class
Operators (Secs. 3.6, A.3)
Week 9 Mon Oct 17 Eigenstates (Secs. 3.3, A.5, A.6)
Wed Oct 19 The postulates of quantum mechanics (Sec. 3.4)
Fri Oct 21 HW 7 due at start of class
The uncertainty principle (Sec. 3.5)
Quiz 3 during class
Week 10 Mon Oct 24 Quantum mechanics in three dimensions (Sec. 4.1).
Spherically symmetric potentials (Sec. 4.1)
Wed Oct 26 Spherically symmetric potentials (continued)
Fri Oct 28 HW 8 due at start of class
Particle in a spherical box (Sec. 4.1)
Week 11 Mon Oct 31 The hydrogen atom (Sec. 4.2)
Wed Nov 2 The hydrogen atom (continued)
Fri Nov 4 HW 9 due at start of class
Angular momentum (Sec. 4.3)
Quiz 4 during class
Week 12 Mon Nov 7 Catch-up/Review
Tue Nov 8 Exam 2: 8:20–10:10 p.m. in NPB 1002
Wed Nov 9 Angular momentum (continued)
Fri Nov 11 No class: Veterans Day
Week 13 Mon Nov 14 Spin (Sec. 4.4)
Wed Nov 16 Spin (continued)
Fri Nov 18 HW 10 due at start of class
Spin in a magnetic field (Sec. 4.4.2)
Week 14 Mon Nov 21 Addition of angular momentum (Sec. 4.4.3)
Wed Nov 23 No class: Thanksgiving Break
Fri Nov 25 No class: Thanksgiving Break
Week 15 Mon Nov 28 Two-particle systems (Sec. 5.1)
Wed Nov 30 Two identical particles (Sec. 5.1)
Fri Dec 2 Introduction to quantum computing (not to be assessed)
Week 16 Mon Dec 5 Quantum computing (continued)
Wed Dec 7 HW 11 due at start of class
Quiz 5 during class
Week 17 Thu Dec 15 Final Exam: 7:30–9:30 a.m. in NPB 1002

Disclaimer: This syllabus represents the instructor's current plans and objectives. As we go through the semester, those plans may need to change. Such changes, communicated clearly, are not unusual and should be expected.

University Policies

Accommodating Students With Disabilities: Students with disabilities who experience learning barriers and would like to request academic accommodations should connect with the Disability Resource Center. It is important for students to share their accommodation letter with the course instructor and discuss their access needs as early as possible in the semester because accommodations are not retroactive.

In-Class Recording: Students are allowed to record video or audio of class lectures. However, the purposes for which these recordings may be used are strictly controlled. The only allowable purposes are (1) for personal educational use, (2) in connection with a complaint to the university, or (3) as evidence in, or in preparation for, a criminal or civil proceeding. All other purposes are prohibited. Specifically, students may not publish recorded lectures without the written consent of the instructor.

A "class lecture" is an educational presentation intended to inform or teach enrolled students about a particular subject, including any instructor-led discussions that form part of the presentation, and delivered by any instructor hired or appointed by the University, or by a guest instructor, as part of a University of Florida course. A class lecture does not include lab sessions, student presentations, clinical presentations such as patient history, academic exercises involving solely student participation, assessments (quizzes, tests, exams), field trips, private conversations between students in the class or between a student and the faculty or lecturer during a class session.

Publication without permission of the instructor is prohibited. To "publish" means to share, transmit, circulate, distribute, or provide access to a recording, regardless of format or medium, to another person (or persons), including but not limited to another student within the same class section. Additionally, a recording, or transcript of a recording, is considered published if it is posted on or uploaded to, in whole or in part, any media platform, including but not limited to social media, book, magazine, newspaper, leaflet, or third party note/tutoring services. A student who publishes a recording without written consent may be subject to a civil cause of action instituted by a person injured by the publication and/or discipline under UF Regulation 4.040 Student Honor Code and Student Conduct Code.

Honor Code: UF students are bound by The Honor Pledge: "We, the members of the University of Florida community, pledge to hold ourselves and our peers to the highest standards of honor and integrity by abiding by the Honor Code. On all work submitted for credit by students at the University of Florida, the following pledge is either required or implied: The Student Conduct Code specifies a number of behaviors that are in violation of this code and the possible sanctions. Furthermore, you are obligated to report any condition that facilitates academic misconduct to appropriate personnel. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with the course instructor.

Evaluation: Students are expected to provide professional and respectful feedback on the quality of instruction in this course by completing course evaluations online via GatorEvals. Guidance on how to give feedback in a professional and respectful manner is available at Students will be notified when the evaluation period opens, and can complete evaluations through the email they receive from GatorEvals, in their Canvas course menu under GatorEvals, or via Summaries of course evaluation results are available to students at

How to Succeed in PHY 4604

You should attend class to learn about the basic concepts and how to apply them in solving problems. Arrive on time for class, since announcements will generally be made at the start of each lecture.

It will likely benefit you to read the textbook in advance to acquaint yourself with the material to be covered. This will allow you to focus during the class on the more subtle points.

You should work all the homework assignments, which form an essential part of the course. With all the opportunities to achieve a high score (see "Homework" above), you should look to the homework to establish a strong foundation for your overall course score (see "Grades" above).

Problem solving provides a good measure of your understanding of basic principles by testing your ability to combine different physical concepts as they apply to unfamiliar situations. If you find that you are struggling with the homework, or if you want to improve your performance on the exams, you should practice additional problems beyond the assigned homework. The best sources of practice problems are (1) the text and (2) the prior-year exams that can be accessed through the "Practice Exams" page in the course Canvas site. Your grade in this course will be based solely on your success at solving problems during homework assignments, quizzes, and exams, so there will be a direct payoff for your effort.

You will learn most if you try each problem on your own first. If you get stuck, talk the problem over with a friend, consult the instructor, or check the solution (if one is available). Whenever you need help to complete a problem it is essential, though, that you consolidate your new understanding by successfully doing another problem of the same type by yourself. Don't despair if you seem to make a lot of mistakes at the start. A successful physicist is basically somebody who has made all possible mistakes in the past and has learned how to avoid repeating most of them!

If you are encountering difficulties with PHY 4604, don't wait to seek help. The course content is largely cumulative, so if you fall behind it will be hard to catch up. You are encouraged to consult with the instructor in person or via e-mail. When using e-mail, please make any physics questions as specific as possible, and recognize that it may be some time before you get a reply (especially outside normal business hours). Discussion of complex matters is usually best conducted face to face, either immediately after class or during office hours. If your schedule prevents you from attending in-person or Zoom office hours, please contact the instructor to set up an appointment at a mutually convenient time.

Getting Help

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