## Activity: Outer Product of a Vector on Itself

Quantum Fundamentals 2023 (2 years)
Students compute the outer product of a vector on itself to product a projection operator. Students discover that projection operators are idempotent (square to themselves) and that a complete set of outer products of an orthonormal basis is the identity (a completeness relation).
• This activity is used in the following sequences
What students learn
• Outer products yield projection operators
• Projection operators are idempotes (they square to themselves)
• A complete set of outer products of an orthonormal basis is the identity (a completeness relation)
Outer Product of a Vector on Itself
1. For one of the vectors below, what matrix is the outer product of the vector on itself (i.e., $\left|{v_1}\right\rangle \left\langle {v_1}\right|$)? All the vectors are written in the $S_z$ basis. \begin{align*} \left|{+}\right\rangle &\doteq \begin{bmatrix} 1\\0 \end{bmatrix} &\left|{-}\right\rangle &\doteq \begin{bmatrix} 0\\1 \end{bmatrix} &\left|{+}\right\rangle _x &\doteq \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\begin{bmatrix} 1\\1 \end{bmatrix} \\[10pt] \left|{-}\right\rangle _x &\doteq \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\begin{bmatrix} 1\\-1 \end{bmatrix} &\left|{+}\right\rangle _y &\doteq \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\begin{bmatrix} 1\\i \end{bmatrix} &\left|{-}\right\rangle _y &\doteq \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\begin{bmatrix} 1\\-i \end{bmatrix}\\[10pt] \left|{v_7}\right\rangle &\doteq \frac{1}{5}\begin{bmatrix} 3\\4 \end{bmatrix} &\left|{v_8}\right\rangle &\doteq \frac{1}{5}\begin{bmatrix} 4\\-3 \end{bmatrix} &\left|{v_9}\right\rangle &\doteq \begin{bmatrix} a\\be^{i\phi} \end{bmatrix}\\[10pt] \left|{1}\right\rangle _x &\doteq \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\begin{bmatrix} \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\\1\\\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}} \end{bmatrix} &\left|{0}\right\rangle _x &\doteq \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\begin{bmatrix} 1\\0\\-1 \end{bmatrix} &\left|{-1}\right\rangle _x &\doteq \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\begin{bmatrix} \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\\-1\\\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}} \end{bmatrix} \end{align*}
2. What is the transformation caused by your outer product?

3. What is the determinant of your outer product?

4. What is the square of your outer product?

Bonus: What happens when you add the outer products for a complete orthonormal basis?

Bonus 2: How would you answer questions (2) and (4) staying purely in Dirac bra-ket notation?

## Prompt:

I recommend doing the activity as a Compare & Contrast. Make sure students who get the first two do a second one. Have groups record their results on a public table.

## Student Conservations

• Students may have trouble identifying the transformation.
• For real vectors, have them plot the vectors on the $\left|{\pm}\right\rangle$ axes.
• For imaginary vectors, try factoring out a common factor from both components.
• Students will be curious is the matrices are projections or scrinches/smooshes. You can point out that the scaling factor on their transformed vector is the inner product between their original vector and the untransformed vector: $(\left|{v_i}\right\rangle \left\langle {v_i}\right|)\left|{\psi}\right\rangle = \left\langle {v_i}\right|\psi\rangle \left|{v_i}\right\rangle = \left|{\psi'}\right\rangle$

## Activity: Wrap-up

This activity works well if different groups are assigned different vectors and the different results are reported at the end. Wrap-up should emphasize that:

• an outer product of two vectors produces a matrix
• an outer product of a vector $|a\rangle$ on itself produces an operator that projects vectors onto the line with the same slope as the $|a\rangle$.
• the determinant of a projection operator is zero
• A projection operator squares to itself

If students have done the Spin Lab 1, the facilitator can point out that a projection (and renormalization) operation is consistent with the transformation that occurs when a Stern-Gerlach measurement is made.

This activity works well as a follow-up to the Linear Transformations activity.

• group Expectation Value and Uncertainty for the Difference of Dice

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

##### Expectation Value and Uncertainty for the Difference of Dice
Quantum Fundamentals 2023 (3 years)
• group Finding if $S_{x}, \; S_{y}, \; and \; S_{z}$ Commute

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

##### Finding if $S_{x}, \; S_{y}, \; and \; S_{z}$ Commute
Quantum Fundamentals 2023 (3 years)
• group Operators & Functions

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

##### Operators & Functions
Quantum Fundamentals 2023 (3 years) Students are asked to:
• Test to see if one of the given functions is an eigenfunction of the given operator
• See if they can write the functions that are found not to be eigenfunctions as a linear combination of eigenfunctions.
• group Mass is not Conserved

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

##### Mass is not Conserved
Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)

Groups are asked to analyze the following standard problem:

Two identical lumps of clay of (rest) mass m collide head on, with each moving at 3/5 the speed of light. What is the mass of the resulting lump of clay?

• group $|\pm\rangle$ Forms an Orthonormal Basis

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

##### $|\pm\rangle$ Forms an Orthonormal Basis
Quantum Fundamentals 2023 (3 years)

Completeness Relations

Student explore the properties of an orthonormal basis using the Cartesian and $S_z$ bases as examples.
• face Gibbs entropy approach

face Lecture

120 min.

##### Gibbs entropy approach
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

These lecture notes for the first week of Thermal and Statistical Physics include a couple of small group activities in which students work with the Gibbs formulation of the entropy.
• group Matrix Representation of Angular Momentum

group Small Group Activity

10 min.

##### Matrix Representation of Angular Momentum
Central Forces 2023 (2 years)
• group Quantum Measurement Play

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

##### Quantum Measurement Play
Quantum Fundamentals 2023 (2 years)

The instructor and students do a skit where students represent quantum states that are “measured” by the instructor resulting in a state collapse.
• keyboard Sinusoidal basis set

keyboard Computational Activity

120 min.

##### Sinusoidal basis set
Computational Physics Lab II 2023 (2 years)

Students compute inner products to expand a wave function in a sinusoidal basis set. This activity introduces the inner product for wave functions, and the idea of approximating a wave function using a finite set of basis functions.
• assignment QF Project and Reflection

assignment Homework

##### QF Project and Reflection
Quantum Fundamentals 2023 Submit your video on Canvas. After you submit your video, complete the reflection questions for the course on Gradescope.

Learning Outcomes