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Last updated 2018-Dec-11.

Physics 217: Introduction to Quantum Physics I, Fall 2018


The course meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11-12 in Crow 204.

Instructor: Prof. Willem Dickhoff
Office: Compton 371
Office hour: Thursday, 1-2.
Students are also welcome to make appointments at other times.
AI: Linghan Zhu
Office: Crow 220
Office hour: Thursday, 3-4 in Crow 305 and by appointment (she has no class on Wednesday).

Books and software resources

Course Textbook: Modern Physics by Randy Harris, ISBN 0-8053-0308-1.
You must own a copy of this book or its much cheaper international edition: the course will follow its general progress and some of the homework problems will come from it.
Other useful books: Quantum Physics by Eisberg and Resnick
Modern Physics for scientists and engineers by Taylor and Zafiratos (and Dubson, 2nd edition).
An introduction to quantum physics by French and Taylor
Concepts of modern physics by Beiser
Introductory quantum mechanics by Liboff.
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by Griffiths (2nd edition) [material from this text will also be used in the course]
(on reserve in the physics library)
Course software: Mathematica will be used for some homework problems. You must ensure that you have access to it, and basic competence in using it. The university provides access to Mathematica for all students. An introduction written by Prof. Alford can be obtained here: Introduction to Mathematica which provides further links. Linghan Zhu will provide two introductory lectures on the use of Mathematica on September 5 and 7.

Course outline

This course provides an introduction to Quantum Mechanics, the keystone of modern physics. We will cover chapters 3 to 8 of the textbook, Modern Physics by Harris supplemented with material from Griffiths. Note that not all sections of these chapters will be covered in class. Also note that the international edition contains exactly the same material although the chapters are in a different order.

Chapter 3: Waves and Particles I: Electromagnetic radiation behaving as particles
Chapter 4: Waves and Particles II: Matter behaving as waves
Chapter 5: Bound states: simple cases
Chapter 6: Unbound states: Steps, tunneling and particle-wave propagation
Chapter 7: Quantum mechanics in three dimensions and the Hydrogen atom
Chapter 8: Spin and atomic physics


The final grade will be a weighted average of homework (30%), the midterm (25%), and the final exam (35%) with about 10% based on numerical projects (addition 11/14/2018: these 10% are added to the homework as numerical work included there sufficiently making the homework worth 40%). Addition 11/26/2018: With the additional optional problem set worth 20 points there are now 13.5 problem sets. 11 of these will count towards the course grade!

Homework: Problem sets will be handed out every week. Students are expected to hand in the solutions on the due date, typically at the beginning of class on Friday. Late homework will only be accepted by prior arrangement with Prof. Dickhoff. In no case can homework be given a grade after the solutions have been distributed.
Students are permitted and encouraged to work with classmates on homework. However, the written work that you submit should be yours alone. Cheating on exams, and copying homework are serious off enses that will be reported to the Committee on Academic Integrity. You should be familiar with the University guidelines.
When answering a question, you will usually only get partial credit if you just write down an answer, with no justification. To get full credit you need to give reasons why your answer is correct.
Midterm: The midterm will be on Fri October 12th, 2018. It will be one hour long. Note this is a change from the original arrangement!
Review: Wednesday, December 12th, 11am in Crow 204
Final: The final exam will be on Tues, Dec 18th from 10:30am-12:30pm in Crow 204, our usual classroom.
Exam rules: These rules apply to both the midterm but not the final.
  1. Each student may compile a single letter-size hand-written "crib sheet" of formulas. Both sides of the sheet may be used, but the sheet must be an original hand-written document, not a copy.
  2. Each student is expected to bring a calculator to the exam.
  3. When answering a question, you will usually only get partial credit if you just write down an answer, with no justification. To get full credit you need to give reasons why your answer is correct.
The following rules have been agreed to for the final:
  1. Each student may bring the textbook, class notes, and graded homework sets to the exam and consult these during the exam.
  2. Each student is expected to bring a calculator to the exam.
  3. When answering a question, you will usually only get partial credit if you just write down an answer, with no justification. To get full credit you need to give reasons why your answer is correct.

Course materials

Homework assigned so far:

Problem Set 1 Due September 7
Problem Set 2 Due September 14
Problem Set 3 Due September 21
Problem Set 4 Due September 28
Problem Set 5 Due October 5
Problem Set 6 Due October 19
Problem Set 7 Due October 26
Problem Set 8 Due November 2
Problem Set 9 Due November 9
Problem Set 10 Due November 16
Problem Set 11 Due November 30
Optional problem Set Due November 30
Optional problem Set-2 Due December 7
Problem Set 12 Due December 7
Mathematica downloads:
Tutorial Set 2
Homework solutions so far:
Solution Set 1
Solution Set 2
Solution Set 3
Solution Set 4
Solution Set 5
Solution Set 6
Solution Set 7
Solution Set 8
Solution Set 9
Solution Set 10
Solution Set 11
Solution Set 12

Summary by Prof. Alford

Midterm exam solutions: Midterm_key
Corrections to errors and obscurities in the textbook:

Information about complex numbers: An online introduction
to complex numbers
The Mathematica guide
to complex numbers
Information on Spherical Harmonics: from Mathematica


Accommodations based upon sexual assault:

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Mental Health Services' professional staff members work with students to resolve personal and interpersonal difficulties, many of which can affect the academic experience. These include conflicts with or worry about friends or family, concerns about eating or drinking patterns, and feelings of anxiety and depression. See:

Course Evaluation

During the evaluation period you can supply your evaluation of the course at the course evaluation website.