format_list_numbered Sequence

Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States
“Arms” is an engaging representation of complex numbers in which students use their left arms to geometrically represent numbers in the complex plane (an Argand diagram). The sequence starts with pure math activities in which students represent a single complex number (using prompts in both rectangular and exponential forms), demonstrate multiplication of complex numbers in exponential form, and act out a number of different linear transformation on pairs of complex numbers. Later activities, relevant to spin 1/2 systems in quantum mechanics, explore overall phases, relative phases, and time dependence. These activities can be combined and sequenced in many different ways; see the Instructor's Guide for the second activity for ideas about how to introduce the Arms representation the first time you use it.

assignment Homework

Circle Trig Complex
Complex Numbers Exponential Form Rectangular Form Polar Form Unit Circle Quantum Fundamentals 2022

Find the rectangular coordinates of the point where the angle \(\frac{5\pi}{3}\) meets the unit circle. If this were a point in the complex plane, what would be the rectangular and exponential forms of the complex number? (See figure.)

accessibility_new Kinesthetic

10 min.

Using Arms to Visualize Complex Numbers (MathBits)
Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years)

arms complex numbers Argand diagram complex plane rectangular form exponential form complex conjugate math

Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States

Students move their left arm in a circle to trace out the complex plane (Argand diagram). They then explore the rectangular and exponential representations of complex numbers by using their left arm to show given complex numbers on the complex plane. Finally they enact multiplication of complex numbers in exponential form and complex conjugation.

group Small Group Activity

10 min.

Using Tinker Toys to Represent Spin 1/2 Quantum Systems

spin 1/2 eigenstates quantum states

Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States

Students use Tinker Toys to represent each component in a two-state quantum spin system in all three standard bases (\(x\), \(y\), and \(z\)). Through a short series of instructor-led prompts, students explore the difference between overall phase (which does NOT change the state of the system) and relative phase (which does change the state of the system). This activity is optional in the Arms Sequence Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States.

accessibility_new Kinesthetic

10 min.

Using Arms to Represent Overall and Relative Phase in Spin 1/2 Systems
Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years)

quantum states complex numbers arms Bloch sphere relative phase overall phase

Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States

Students, working in pairs, use the Arms representations to represent states of spin 1/2 system. Through a short series of instructor-led prompts, students explore the difference between overall phase (which does NOT distinguish quantum states) and relative phase (which does distinguish quantum states).

accessibility_new Kinesthetic

30 min.

Using Arms to Visualize Transformations of Complex Two-Component Vectors (MathBits)
Quantum Fundamentals 2022

arms complex numbers phase rotation reflection math

Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States

Students, working in pairs, represent two component complex vectors with their left arms. Through a short series of instructor led prompts, students move their left arms to show how various linear transformations affect each complex component.

group Small Group Activity

5 min.

Fourier Transform of the Delta Function
Periodic Systems 2022

Fourier Transforms and Wave Packets

Students calculate the Fourier transform of the Dirac delta function.

assignment Homework

Phase
Complex Numbers Rectangular Form Exponential Form Square of the Norm Overall Phase Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years)
  1. For each of the following complex numbers \(z\), find \(z^2\), \(\vert z\vert^2\), and rewrite \(z\) in exponential form, i.e. as a magnitude times a complex exponential phase:
    • \(z_1=i\),

    • \(z_2=2+2i\),
    • \(z_3=3-4i\).
  2. In quantum mechanics, it turns out that the overall phase for a state does not have any physical significance. Therefore, you will need to become quick at rearranging the phase of various states. For each of the vectors listed below, rewrite the vector as an overall complex phase times a new vector whose first component is real and positive. \[\left|D\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 7e^{i\frac{\pi}{6}}\\ 3e^{i\frac{\pi}{2}}\\ -1\\ \end{pmatrix}\\ \left|E\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} i\\ 4\\ \end{pmatrix}\\ \left|F\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 2+2i\\ 3-4i\\ \end{pmatrix} \]

accessibility_new Kinesthetic

10 min.

Spin 1/2 with Arms
Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years)

Quantum State Vectors Complex Numbers Spin 1/2 Arms Representation

Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States

Students, working in pairs, use their left arms to represent each component in a two-state quantum spin 1/2 system. Reinforces the idea that quantum states are complex valued vectors. Students make connections between Dirac, matrix, and Arms representation.

keyboard Computational Activity

120 min.

Mean position
Computational Physics Lab II 2022

probability density particle in a box wave function quantum mechanics

Students compute probabilities and averages given a probability density in one dimension. This activity serves as a soft introduction to the particle in a box, introducing all the concepts that are needed.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Hydrogen Probabilities in Matrix Notation
Central Forces 2023 (2 years)

assignment Homework

Series Convergence

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Static Fields 2022 (6 years)

Recall that, if you take an infinite number of terms, the series for \(\sin z\) and the function itself \(f(z)=\sin z\) are equivalent representations of the same thing for all real numbers \(z\), (in fact, for all complex numbers \(z\)). This is not always true. More commonly, a series is only a valid, equivalent representation of a function for some more restricted values of \(z\). The technical name for this idea is convergence--the series only "converges" to the value of the function on some restricted domain, called the “interval” or “region of convergence.”

Find the power series for the function \(f(z)=\frac{1}{1+z^2}\). Then, using the Mathematica worksheet from class (vfpowerapprox.nb) as a model, or some other computer algebra system like Sage or Maple, explore the convergence of this series. Where does your series for this new function converge? Can you tell anything about the region of convergence from the graphs of the various approximations? Print out a plot and write a brief description (a sentence or two) of the region of convergence. You may need to include a lot of terms to see the effect of the region of convergence. Keep adding terms until you see a really strong effect!

Note: As a matter of professional ettiquette (or in some cases, as a legal copyright requirement), if you use or modify a computer program written by someone else, you should always acknowledge that fact briefly in whatever you write up. Say something like: “This calculation was based on a (name of software package) program titled (title) originally written by (author) copyright (copyright date).”

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

Going from Spin States to Wavefunctions
Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years)

Wavefunctions quantum states probability amplitude histograms matrix notation of quantum states Arms representation

Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States

Completeness Relations

Students review using the Arms representation to represent states for discrete quantum systems and connecting the Arms representation to histogram and matrix representation. The student then extend the Arms representation to begin exploring the continuous position basis.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Working with Representations on the Ring
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

Visualizing Plane Waves

Each small group of 3-4 students is given a white board or piece of paper with a square grid of points on it.

Each group is given a different two-dimensional vector \(\vec{k}\) and is asked to calculate the value of \(\vec{k} \cdot \vec {r}\) for each point on the grid and to draw the set of points with constant value of \(\vec{k} \cdot \vec{r}\) using rainbow colors to indicate increasing value.

face Lecture

120 min.

Boltzmann probabilities and Helmholtz
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

ideal gas entropy canonical ensemble Boltzmann probability Helmholtz free energy statistical mechanics

These notes, from the third week of Thermal and Statistical Physics cover the canonical ensemble and Helmholtz free energy. They include a number of small group activities.