Acknowledgments
This set of lecture notes accompanies Frederic Schuller’s course on Quantum Theory, taught in the summer of 2015 at the FriedrichAlexanderUniversität ErlangenNürnberg as part of the Elite Graduate Programme. The entire course is hosted on YouTube at the following address:
These lecture notes are not endorsed by Dr. Schuller or the University. While I have tried to correct typos and errors made during the lectures (some helpfully pointed out by YouTube commenters), I have also taken the liberty to add and/or modify some of the material at various points in the notes. Any errors that may result from this are, of course, mine. If you have any comments regarding these notes, feel free to get in touch. Visit my blog for the most up to date version of these notes
My gratitude goes to Dr. Schuller for lecturing this course and for making it available on YouTube.
Simon Rea
4
Projectors, bras and kets
4.1 Projectors
Projectors play a key role in quantum theory, as you can see from Axioms 2 and 5.
Deﬁnition. Let H be a separable Hilbert space. Fix a unit vector e ∈ H (that is, e = 1) and let ψ ∈ H. The projection of ψ to e is
ψ
:= eψ e
while the orthogonal complement of ψ is
ψ _{⊥} := ψ − ψ
.
We can extend these deﬁnitions to a countable orthonormal subset {e _{i} } _{i}_{∈}_{N} ⊂ H, i.e. a subset of H whose elements are pairwise orthogonal and have unit norm. Note that {e _{i} } _{i}_{∈}_{N} need not be a basis of H.
Proposition 4.1. Let ψ ∈ H and let {e _{i} } _{i}_{∈}_{N} ⊂ H be an orthonormal subset. Then
(a) we can write ψ = ψ
and we have
+ ψ _{⊥} , where
∞
ψ
:=
i=0
e _{i} ψ e _{i} ,
ψ _{⊥} := ψ − ψ
∀ i ∈ N :
ψ _{⊥} e _{i} = 0.
(b)
Pythagoras’ theorem holds:
ψ ^{2} = ψ ^{2} + ψ _{⊥} ^{2} .
Note that this is an extension to the ﬁnitedimensional case.
(c)
for any γ ∈ span{e _{i}  i ∈ N}, we have the estimate
ψ − γ ≥ ψ _{⊥}
with equality if, and only if, γ = ψ
.
Proof. First consider the case of a ﬁnite orthonormal subset {e _{0} ,
, e _{n} } ⊂ H.
(a) Let ψ and ψ _{⊥} be deﬁned as in the proposition. Then ψ + ψ _{⊥} = ψ and
ψ _{⊥} e _{i} = ψ −
n
j=0
e _{j} ψ e _{j}
^{e} i
=
=
ψe _{i} −
ψe _{i} −
n
j=0
n
j=0
e _{j} ψ e _{j} e _{i}
ψe _{j} δ _{j}_{i}
= ψe _{i} − ψe _{i}
= 0
for all 0 ≤ i ≤ n.
– 1 –
(b)
From part (a), we have
ψ _{⊥} ψ = ψ _{⊥}
n
i=0
e _{i} ψ e _{i} =
n
i=0
e _{i} ψ ψ _{⊥} e _{i} = 0.
Hence, by (the ﬁnitedimensional) Pythagoras’ theorem
ψ ^{2} = ψ
+ ψ _{⊥} ^{2} = ψ ^{2} + ψ _{⊥} ^{2} .
^{n}
(c) Let γ ∈ span{e _{i}  0 ≤ i ≤ n}. Then γ = ^{} _{i}_{=}_{0}
γ _{i} e _{i} for some γ _{0} ,
ψ − γ ^{2} = ψ _{⊥}
+ ψ
_{} ψ _{⊥} +
n
_{} ψ _{⊥} +
− γ ^{2}
n
=
i=0
n
=
i=0
e _{i} ψ e _{i} −
i=0
( e _{i} ψ − γ _{i} )e _{i}
γ i e i
2
=
ψ _{⊥} ^{2} +
n
i=0

e _{i} ψ − γ _{i}  ^{2}
2
, γ _{n} ∈ C. Hence
and thus ψ − γ ≥ ψ _{⊥} since  e _{i} ψ − γ _{i}  ^{2} > 0 for all 0 ≤ i ≤ n. Moreover, we
have equality if, and only if,  e _{i} ψ − γ _{i}  = 0 for all 0 ≤ i ≤ n, that is γ = ψ
To extend this to a countably inﬁnite orthonormal set {e _{i} } _{i}_{∈}_{N} , note that by part (b) and Bessel’s inequality, we have
.
n
i=0
e _{i} ψ e _{i}
2
=
n
i=0

e _{i} ψ  ^{2} ≤ ψ ^{2} .
Since  e _{i} ψ  ^{2} ≥ 0, the sequence of partial sums ^{}^{} _{i}_{=}_{0} ^{n}  e _{i} ψ  ^{2} ^{} _{n}_{∈}_{N} is monotonically increasing and bounded from above by ψ . Hence, it converges and this implies that
ψ
:=
∞
i=0
e _{i} ψ e _{i}
exists as an element of H. The extension to the countably inﬁnite case then follows by
continuity of the inner product.
4.2 Closed linear subspaces
We will often be interested in looking at linear subspaces of a Hilbert space H, i.e. subsets M ⊆ H such that
∀ ψ, ϕ ∈ M : ∀ z ∈ C :
zψ + ϕ ∈ M.
Note that while every linear subspace M ⊂ H inherits the inner product on H to become an inner product space, it may fail to be complete with respect to this inner product. In other words, non every linear subspace of a Hilbert space is necessarily a subHilbert space. The following deﬁnitions are with respect to the norm topology on a normed space and can, of course, be given more generally on an arbitrary topological space.
– 2 –
Deﬁnition. Let H be a normed space. A subset M ⊂ H is said to be open if
∀ ψ ∈ M : ∃ r > 0 : ∀ ϕ ∈ H :
ψ − ϕ < ε ⇒ ϕ ∈ M.
Equivalently, by deﬁning the open ball of radius r > 0 and centre ψ ∈ H
B _{r} (ψ) := {ϕ ∈ H  ψ − ϕ < r},
we can deﬁne M ⊂ H to be open if
∀ ψ ∈ M : ∃ r > 0 : B _{r} (ψ) ⊆ M.
Deﬁnition. A subset M ⊂ H is said to be closed if its complement H \ M is open.
Proposition 4.2. A closed subset M of a complete normed space H is complete.
Proof. Let {ψ _{n} } _{n}_{∈}_{N} be a Cauchy sequence in the closed subset M. Then, {ψ _{n} } _{n}_{∈}_{N} is also
a Cauchy sequence in H, and hence it converges to some ψ ∈ H since H is complete. We
want to show that, in fact, ψ ∈ M. Suppose, for the sake of contradiction, that ψ ∈/ M,
i.e. ψ ∈ H \ M. Since M is closed, H \ M is open. Hence, there exists r > 0 such that
∀ ϕ ∈ H :
ϕ − ψ < r ⇒ ϕ ∈ H \ M.
However, since ψ is the limit of {ψ _{n} } _{n}_{∈}_{N} , there exists N ∈ N such that
∀ n ≥ N :
ψ _{n} − ψ < r.
Hence, for all n ≥ N , we have ψ _{n} ∈ H \ M, i.e. ψ _{n} ∈/ M, contradicting the fact that
{ψ _{n} } _{n}_{∈}_{N} is a sequence in M. Thus, we must have ψ ∈ M.
Corollary 4.3. A closed linear subspace M of a Hilbert space H is a subHilbert space with the inner product on H. Moreover, if H is separable, then so is M.
Knowing that a linear subspace of a Hilbert space is, in fact, a subHilbert space can be very useful. For instance, we know that there exists an orthonormal basis for the linear subspace. Note that the converse to the corollary does not hold: a subHilbert space need not be a closed linear subspace.
4.3 Orthogonal projections
Deﬁnition. Let M ⊆ H be a (not necessarily closed) linear subspace of H. The set
M ^{⊥} := {ψ ∈ H  ∀ ϕ ∈ M : ϕψ = 0}
is called the orthogonal complement of M in H.
Proposition 4.4. Let M ⊆ H be a linear subspace of H. Then, M ^{⊥} is a closed linear subspace of H.
– 3 –
Proof. Let ψ _{1} , ψ _{2} ∈ M ^{⊥} and z ∈ C. Then, for all ϕ ∈ M
ϕzψ _{1} + ψ _{2} = z ϕψ _{1} + ϕψ _{2} = 0
and hence zψ _{1} + ψ _{2} ∈ M. Thus, M ^{⊥} is a linear subspace of H. It remains to be shown that it is also closed. Deﬁne the maps
f _{ϕ} : H → C
ψ
→
ϕψ .
Then, we can write
M ^{⊥} =
^{}
ϕ∈M
preim _{f} _{ϕ} ({0}).
Since the inner product is continuous (in each slot), the maps f _{ϕ} are continuous. Hence, the preimages of closed sets are closed. As the singleton {0} is closed in the standard topology on C, the sets preim _{f} _{ϕ} ({0}) are closed for all ϕ ∈ M. Thus, M ^{⊥} is closed since arbitrary
intersections of closed sets are closed.
Note that by Pythagoras’ theorem, we have the decomposition
H = M ⊕ M ^{⊥} := {ψ + ϕ  ψ ∈ M, ϕ ∈ M ^{⊥} }
for any closed linear subspace M.
Deﬁnition. Let M be a closed linear subspace of a separable Hilbert space H and ﬁx some orthonormal basis of M. The map
P _{M} : H →
ψ →
M
ψ
is called the orthogonal projector to M.
Proposition 4.5. Let P _{M} : H → M be an orthogonal projector to M ⊆ H. Then
(i)
(ii)
(iii)
(iv)
P _{M} ◦ P _{M} = P _{M} , sometimes
2
also written as P _{M} = P _{M}
∀ ψ, ϕ ∈ H : 
P _{M} ψϕ = ψP _{M} ϕ 
P _{M} _{⊥}_{ψ} = ψ _{⊥} 

P _{M} ∈ L(H, M). 
Proof. Let {e _{i} } _{i}_{∈}_{I} and {e _{i} } _{i}_{∈}_{J} be bases of M and M ^{⊥} respectively, where I, J are either ﬁnite or countably inﬁnite, such that {e _{i} } _{i}_{∈}_{I}_{∪}_{J} is a basis of H (in the latter case, we think of I as having a deﬁnite ordering).
– 4 –
(i)
(ii)
(iii)
(iv)
Let ψ ∈ H. Then
Let ψ, ϕ ∈ H. Then
Let ψ ∈ H. Then
P _{M} (P _{M} ψ) :=
P _{M} ^{} e _{i} ψ e _{i}
i∈I
; = ^{}
j∈I
^{}
=
j∈I
e j
i∈I
i∈I
e _{i} ψ e _{i} e _{j}
e _{i} ψ e _{j} e _{i} e _{j}
= ^{} e _{i} ψ e _{i}
i∈I
=: P _{M} ψ.
P _{M} ψϕ := ^{} e _{i} ψ e _{i}
i∈I
^{ϕ}
= ^{} e _{i} ψ e _{i} ϕ
i∈I
= ^{} e _{i} ϕ ψe _{i}
=
i∈I
ψ
i∈I
e _{i} ϕ e _{i}
=: ψP _{M} ϕ .
P _{M} ψ + P _{M} _{⊥}_{ψ} = ^{} e _{i} ψ e _{i} + ^{} e _{i} ψ e _{i} = ^{}
Hence
i∈I
P _{M} _{⊥}_{ψ}
i∈J
= ψ − P _{M} ψ = ψ − ψ
i∈I∪J
=: ψ _{⊥} .
e _{i} ψ e _{i} = ψ.
Let ψ ∈ H. Then, by Pythagoras’ theorem,
sup
ψ∈H
P _{M} ψ
_{} _{ψ} _{}
= sup
ψ∈H
_{} _{ψ} _{}
= sup
ψ∈H
ψ − ψ _{⊥}
ψ
≤ 1 < ∞
Quite interesting, and heavily used, is the converse.
Theorem 4.6. Let P ∈ L(H, H) have the properties
(i) 
P ◦ P = 
P 

(ii) 
∀ ψ, ϕ ∈ 
H : 
Pψϕ = ψPϕ . 
Then, the range P(H) of P is closed and
P = P P(H) .
In other words, every projector is the orthogonal projector to some closed linear subspace.
– 5 –
4.4
Riesz representation theorem, bras and kets
Let H be a Hilbert space. Consider again the map
f _{ϕ} : H →
ψ
C
ϕψ .
→
for ϕ ∈ H. The linearity in the second argument of the inner product implies that this map is linear. Moreover, by the CauchySchwarz inequality, we have
sup
ψ∈H
f _{ϕ} (ψ)
_{} _{ψ} _{}
= sup
ψ∈H

ϕψ 
≤ sup
ψ
ψ∈H
ϕ ψ
ψ
= ϕ < ∞.
Hence, f _{ϕ} ∈ L(H, C) =: H ^{∗} . Therefore, to every element of ϕ of H, there is associated an element f _{ϕ} in the dual space H ^{∗} . In fact, the converse is also true.
Theorem 4.7 (Riesz representation). Every f ∈ H ^{∗} is of the form f _{ϕ} for a unique ϕ ∈ H.
Proof. First, suppose that f = 0, i.e. f is the zero functional on H. Then, clearly, f = f _{0}
Since, ker f := preim _{f} ({0}) is a closed linear
subspace, we can write
H = ker f ⊕ (ker f ) ^{⊥} .
H, and thus
(ker f ) ^{⊥} = {0}. Let ξ ∈ (ker f ) ^{⊥} \ {0} and assume, w.l.o.g., that ξ = 1. Deﬁne
As f = 0, there exists some ψ ∈ H such that ψ ∈/ ker f .
with 0 ∈ H.
Hence, suppose that f
= 0.
Hence, ker f =
ϕ := f (ξ)ξ ∈ (ker f ) ^{⊥} .
Then, for any ψ ∈ H, we have
f _{ϕ} (ψ) − f (ψ) := ϕψ − f (ψ)
:= f (ξ)ξψ − f (ψ) ξξ
= ξf(ξ)ψ − ξf(ψ)ξ
= ξf(ξ)ψ − f(ψ)ξ .
Note that
f(f(ξ)ψ − f(ψ)ξ) = f(ξ)f(ψ) − f(ψ)f(ξ) = 0,
that is, f (ξ)ψ − f (ψ)ξ ∈ ker f . Since ξ ∈ (ker f ) ^{⊥} , we have
ξf(ξ)ψ − f(ψ)ξ = 0
and hence f _{ϕ} (ψ) = f (ψ) for all ψ ∈ H, i.e. f = f _{ϕ} . For uniqueness, suppose that
f = f _{ϕ} _{1} = f _{ϕ} _{2}
for some ϕ _{1} , ϕ _{1} ∈ H. Then, for any ψ ∈ H,
0
= f _{ϕ} _{1} (ψ) − f _{ϕ} _{2} (ψ)
= ϕ _{1} ψ − ϕ _{2} ψ
= ϕ _{1} − ϕ _{2} ψ
and hence, ϕ _{1} = ϕ _{2} by positivedeﬁniteness.
– 6 –
Therefore, the socalled Riesz map
R: H → H ^{∗}
ϕ →
f _{ϕ} ≡ ϕ·
is a linear isomorphism, and H and H ^{∗} be identiﬁed with one another as vector spaces. This lead Dirac to suggest the following notation for the elements of the dual space
f _{ϕ} ≡ ϕ.
Correspondingly, he wrote ψ for the element ψ ∈ H. Since ·  · is “a bracket”, the ﬁrst half ·  is called a bra, while the second half  · is called a ket (nobody knows where the missing c is). With this notation, we have
f _{ϕ} (ψ) ≡ ϕ(ψ ) ≡ ϕψ .
The notation makes evident the fact that, for any ϕ, ψ ∈ H, we can always consider the inner product ϕψ ∈ C as the result of applying f _{ϕ} ∈ H ^{∗} to ψ ∈ H. The advantage of this notation is that some formulæ become more intuitive and hence are more easily memorised. For a concrete example, consider
ψ =
∞
e _{i} ψ e _{i}
i=0
where {e _{n} } _{n}_{∈}_{N} is a basis of H. This becomes
ψ =
∞
i=0
e _{i} ψ e _{i} .
By allowing the scalar multiplication of kets also from the right, deﬁned to yield the same result as that on the left, we have
∞
=
i=0
e _{i} e _{i} ψ .
“Quite obviously”, we can bracket this as
=
∞
i=0
e _{i} e _{i}  ψ ,
where by “quite obviously”, we mean that we have a suppressed tensor product (see section 8 of the Lectures on the Geometric Anatomy of Theoretical Physics for more details on tensors)
=
∞
i=0
e _{i} ⊗ e _{i}  ψ .
– 7 –
Then, the sum in the round brackets is an element of H ⊗ H ^{∗} . While H ⊗ H ^{∗} is isomorphic to End(H), its elements are maps H ^{∗} × H → C. Hence, one needs to either make this isomorphism explicit or, equivalently,
All of this to be able to write
=
∞
i=0
e _{i} ⊗ e _{i}  ^{} · , ψ ^{} .
_{∞}
i=0
e _{i} e _{i}  = id _{H}
and hence interpret the expansion of ψ in terms of the basis as the “insertion” of an identity
ψ = id _{H} ψ =
∞
i=0
e _{i} e _{i}  ψ =
∞
i=0
e _{i} ψ e _{i} .
But the original expression was already clear in the ﬁrst place, without the need to add hidden tensor products and extra rules. Of course, part of the appeal of this notation is that one can intuitively think of something like e _{i} e _{i}  as a map H → H, by imagining that the bra on the right acts on a ket in H, thereby producing a complex number which becomes the coeﬃcient of the remaining ket
^{} e _{i} e _{i}  ^{} ψ = e _{i} e _{i} ψ = e _{i} ψ e _{i} .
The major drawback of this notation, and the reason why we will not adopt it, is that in many places (for instance, if we consider selfadjoint operators, or Hermitian operators) this notation doesn’t produce inconsistencies only if certain conditions are satisﬁed. While these conditions will indeed be satisﬁed most of times, it becomes extremely confusing to formulate conditions on our objects by using a notation that only makes sense if the objects already satisfy conditions. Of course, as this notation is heavily used in physics and related applied sciences, it is necessary to be able to recognise it and become ﬂuent in it. But note that it does not make things clearer. If anything, it makes things more complicated.
– 8 –
Further readings
Mathematical quantum mechanics
• Ballentine, Quantum Mechanics: A Modern Development (Second edition), World Scientiﬁc 2014
• Faddeev, Yakubovskii, Lectures on Quantum Mechanics for Mathematics Students, American Mathematical Society 2009
• Folland, Quantum Field Theory: A Tourist Guide for Mathematicians, American Mathematical Society 2008
• Gieres, Mathematical surprises and Dirac’s formalism in quantum mechanics
• Hall, Quantum Theory for Mathematicians, Springer 2013
• Mackey, Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, Dover Publications 2004
• Moretti, Spectral Theory and Quantum Mechanics: With an Introduction to the Al gebraic Formulation, Springer 2013
• Parthasarathy, Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, Hindustan Book Agency 2005
• Strocchi, An Introduction to the Mathematical Structure of Quantum Mechanics: A Short Course for Mathematicians, World Scientiﬁc 2008
• Takhtajan, Quantum Mechanics for Mathematicians, American Mathematical Society
2008
Linear Algebra
• Friedberg, Insel, Spence, Linear Algebra (4th Edition), Pearson 2002
Functional analysis
• Hunter, Nachtergaele, Applied Analysis, World Scientiﬁc, 2001
• Kadison, Ringrose, Fundamentals of the Theory of Operator Algebras. Volumes III, American Mathematical Society 1997
– 9 –
Alphabetical Index
B 

bras and kets 
7 

C 

closed set 
3 

O 

open set 
3 
orthogonal complement 
3 
P 

projection 
1 
R 

Riesz map 
7 
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