Activity: Expectation Value and Uncertainty for the Difference of Dice

Quantum Fundamentals Winter 2021
  • group Visualization of Divergence

    group Small Group Activity

    30 min.

    Visualization of Divergence
    AIMS Maxwell AIMS 21 Vector Calculus II Fall 2021 Vector Calculus II Summer 21 Static Fields Winter 2021 Students predict from graphs of simple 2-d vector fields whether the divergence is positive, negative, or zero in various regions of the domain using the definition of the divergence of a vector field at a point: The divergence of a vector field at a point is flux per unit volume through an infinitesimal box surrounding that point. Optionally, students can use a Mathematica notebook to verify their predictions.
  • group Outer Product of a Vector on Itself

    group Small Group Activity

    30 min.

    Outer Product of a Vector on Itself

    Projection Operators Outer Products Matrices

    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).
  • 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 Winter 2021
  • group Operators & Functions

    group Small Group Activity

    30 min.

    Operators & Functions
    Quantum Fundamentals Winter 2021 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.
  • assignment Gibbs entropy is extensive

    assignment Homework

    Gibbs entropy is extensive
    Gibbs entropy Probability

    Consider two noninteracting systems \(A\) and \(B\). We can either treat these systems as separate, or as a single combined system \(AB\). We can enumerate all states of the combined by enumerating all states of each separate system. The probability of the combined state \((i_A,j_B)\) is given by \(P_{ij}^{AB} = P_i^AP_j^B\). In other words, the probabilities combine in the same way as two dice rolls would, or the probabilities of any other uncorrelated events.

    1. Show that the entropy of the combined system \(S_{AB}\) is the sum of entropies of the two separate systems considered individually, i.e. \(S_{AB} = S_A+S_B\). This means that entropy is extensive. Use the Gibbs entropy for this computation. You need make no approximation in solving this problem.
    2. Show that if you have \(N\) identical non-interacting systems, their total entropy is \(NS_1\) where \(S_1\) is the entropy of a single system.

    Note
    In real materials, we treat properties as being extensive even when there are interactions in the system. In this case, extensivity is a property of large systems, in which surface effects may be neglected.

  • group Mass is not Conserved

    group Small Group Activity

    30 min.

    Mass is not Conserved
    Theoretical Mechanics Fall 2020 Theoretical Mechanics Fall 2021

    energy conservation mass conservation collision

    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?

  • face Quantum Reference Sheet

    face Lecture

    5 min.

    Quantum Reference Sheet
    Central Forces Spring 2021 Central Forces Spring 2021
  • group Right Angles on Spacetime Diagrams

    group Small Group Activity

    30 min.

    Right Angles on Spacetime Diagrams
    Theoretical Mechanics Fall 2020 Theoretical Mechanics Fall 2021

    Special Relativity

    Students take the inner product of vectors that lie on the spacetime axis to show that they are orthogonal. To do the inner product, students much use the Minkowski metric.
  • assignment Quantum Particle in a 2-D Box

    assignment Homework

    Quantum Particle in a 2-D Box
    Central Forces Spring 2021

    (2 points each)

    You know that the normalized spatial eigenfunctions for a particle in a 1-D box of length \(L\) are \(\sqrt{\frac{2}{L}}\sin{\frac{n\pi x}{L}}\). If you want the eigenfunctions for a particle in a 2-D box, then you just multiply together the eigenfunctions for a 1-D box in each direction. (This is what the separation of variables procedure tells you to do.)

    1. Find the normalized eigenfunctions for a particle in a 2-D box with sides of length \(L_x\) in the \(x\)-direction and length \(L_y\) in the \(y\)-direction.
    2. Find the Hamiltonian for a 2-D box and show that your eigenstates are indeed eigenstates and find a formula for the possible energies
    3. Any sufficiently smooth spatial wave function inside a 2-D box can be expanded in a double sum of the product wave functions, i.e. \begin{equation} \psi(x,y)=\sum_{n=1}^{\infty}\sum_{m=1}^{\infty}\, c_{nm}\; \hbox{eigenfunction}_n(x)\;\hbox{eigenfunction}_m(y) \end{equation} Using your expressions from part (a) above, write out all the terms in this sum out to \(n=3\), \(m=3\). Arrange the terms, conventionally, in terms of increasing energy.

      You may find it easier to work in bra/ket notation: \begin{align*} \left|{\psi}\right\rangle &=\sum_{n=1}^{\infty}\sum_{m=1}^{\infty}\, c_{nm}\left|{n}\right\rangle \left|{m}\right\rangle \\ &=\sum_{n=1}^{\infty}\sum_{m=1}^{\infty}\, c_{nm}\left|{nm}\right\rangle \end{align*}

    4. Find a formula for the \(c_{nm}\)s in part (b). Find the formula first in bra ket notation and then rewrite it in wave function notation.

  • group Time Dependence for a Quantum Particle on a Ring

    group Small Group Activity

    30 min.

    Time Dependence for a Quantum Particle on a Ring
    Central Forces Spring 2021

    central forces quantum mechanics eigenstates eigenvalues angular momentum time dependence hermitian operators probability degeneracy quantum measurements

    Quantum Ring Sequence

    Students calculate probabilities for energy, angular momentum, and position as a function of time for an initial state that is a linear combination of energy/angular momentum eigenstates for a particle confined to a ring written in bra-ket notation. This activity helps students build an understanding of when they can expect a quantity to depend on time and to give them more practice moving between representations.

You have a system that consists of two identical (fair) six-sided dice. Imagine that you will perform an experiment where you roll the pair of dice together and record the observable: the norm of the difference between the values displayed by the two dice.


  1. What are the possible results of the observable for each roll?


  2. What is the theoretical probability of measuring each of those results? Assume the results are fair.

    Plot a probability histogram. Use your histogram to make a guess about where the average value is and the standard deviation.


  3. Use your theoretical probabilities to determine a theoretical average value of the observable (the expectation value)? Indicate the expectation value on your histogram.


  4. Use your theoretical probabilities to determine the standard deviation (the uncertainty) of the distribution of possible results. Indicate the uncertainty on your histogram.


  5. Challenge: Use

    1. Dirac bra-ket notation
    2. matrices

    to represent:

    • the possible states of the dice after a measurement is made;

    • the state of the dice when you're shaking them up in your hand;

    • an operator that represents the norm of the difference of the dice.


Author Information
Paul Emigh & Liz Gire
Learning Outcomes