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Quantum Mechanics for
Scientists and Engineers
David Miller
Background mathematics 3
Coordinates and vectors

z

y

Coordinate axes and vectors

Ordinary geometry Three “axes” x, y, and z All at right angles “Cartesian” axes (from René

x Descartes) Lines or directions at right angles are also called orthogonal

z

y

Coordinate axes and vectors

Right-handed axes Using your right hand Thumb

x

Index (“first”) finger y

Middle finger x No matter how you now rotate your whole hand the axes remain right- handed

z

y
z

Coordinate axes and vectors

If you use your left hand

x

Index (“first”) finger y

Thumb

Middle finger

z

give left-handed axes x No rotation of this entire set of left-handed axes will ever make it right-handed We use right hand axes unless otherwise stated

z

Coordinate axes and vectors

y

y P
.
P
origin
.
x P
z P

For some point P in space The corresponding “projections” onto the coordinate axes give Cartesian coordinates

(x P , y P , z P )

x

x P , y P , and z P , relative to the origin of the axes Sometimes written (x P , y P , z P )

Coordinate axes and vectors

G

A vector is something with a magnitude such as a length and a direction

Usually written in “bold” font e.g., G

  Sometimes G or G

And shown as an “arrow” With “length” and direction

A

r

B

Coordinate axes and vectors

A vector could be the distance and direction you need to walk to get from A to B

Coordinate axes and vectors

F

A vector could be A force how hard you are pushing and what direction you are pushing

Coordinate axes and vectors

v

A vector could be A velocity how fast you are going (speed) e.g., the number on your car speedometer and what direction you are going in e.g., on a compass

r

F

v

Coordinate axes and vectors

An ordinary number which has no direction is called a “scalar” Distance how hard you push speed are all scalars Scalars are in ordinary fonts Usually italic in printing

y

G
y
G
j
G
x
k
i
G
z

z

Coordinate axes and vectors

A vector has “components” along three orthogonal axes G x , G y , and G z We can also define vectors of unit length along each axis

x i – unit vector along x j – unit vector along y k – unit vector along z

z

y
G y
G
G y j
G x i
G x
G z k
G z

Coordinate axes and vectors

x

Then we can write G=G x i+G y j+G z k

z

y
G y
G
G y j
G x i
G x
G z k
G z

Coordinate axes and vectors

Then we can write G=G x i+G y j+G z k making the final vector up by adding its vector components

x

Background mathematics 3
Operations with vectors
S
G
G + S
G + S
G
S

To add vectors graphically connect them head to tail in any order

S
S z k
y j
G
z k
G
y j
G + S
G
x i
S x i

G S

G i

x

G

y

j

G k

z

  S k

x

S

y

z

S i

j

G

x

S

x

i

G

y

S

y

j

G

z

S

z

k

Multiplying vectors

Two kinds of multiplications or “products” for geometrical vectors Dot product

ab

Gives a scalar result Cross product

ab

Gives a vector result

a

angle

b

Vector dot product

One formula for the dot product is

a b

a

b

cos

ab cos

Here the “modulus” sign “| |” means we take the length of the vector

a

a

Note that

ab ba

Also

So

2
aa  a
a  aa
a

angle

b

Vector dot product

One formula for the dot product is

a  b 
a b
cos
 ab cos
We can think of
a b
cos
as

The projection of vector b onto the direction of vector a

Multiplied by the length of a

or

The projection of vector a onto the direction of vector b Multiplied by the length of b

a



b

Vector dot product

One formula for the dot product is

b

Note that

a

a

b

cos

ab cos

for two vectors at right angles

/ 2 90

and

cos/ 20

so

the dot product is zero

Vector dot product

j

k i

The unit vectors along the coordinate directions are all orthogonal (at right angles) So all their dots products with one another are zero

ij 0

ji 0

ik

k i 0 k j 0

0 jk 0

Also, since these are unit length

vectors, by definition

ii 1

jj 1

k k 1

a

b

Vector dot product

Since

ij 0

ji 0

ik

k i 0

0 jk 0

k j 0

Forming the dot product algebraically

ab

gives

a i a jka

xyz



b ijb

b k

xyz

ab a b a b a b

x

x

y

y

z

z

which is an equivalent formula for the dot product

G

i

Vector dot product

The components of a vector can be found by taking the dot product with the unit vectors along the coordinate directions For example

G i

G

x

i G jG k

y

z

i G

x

Vector cross product

a

b

For two vectors

a aaai

x

y

z

jk

b bbbi

x

y

z

jk

the vector cross product is

a

b

n a

b

sin

n

absin

n is a unit vector with a direction given by the right hand screw rule

a
b

ab

gives vector n

away from you

ab

b

a

gives vector n

towards you

Right hand screw rule

Imagine you have a corkscrew With an ordinary right-handed thread with its handle lined up along vector a Now rotate the handle so it lines up with vector b The direction, in or out, that the corkscrew moved is the direction of the vector n

Vector cross product

a

b

Note that

ab ba If we have to turn clockwise to go from a to b So the corkscrew goes “in” So n points “inwards” Then we have to turn anti-clockwise to go from b to a So the corkscrew goes “out” So n point “outwards”

Vector cross product

An equivalent algebraic formula for the vector cross product is

ab

aabb

yzzy

i aab

b

zxxz

j

a b

x

y

a b

y

x

k

A short-hand way of writing this is

 i j k a b  a x a y a z bbb x y z

which is the same as the determinant notation used with matrix algebra