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Essential Quantum Mechanics$
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Gary Bowman

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199228928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228928.001.0001

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What Is a Quantum State?

What Is a Quantum State?

(p.19) 3 What Is a Quantum State?
Essential Quantum Mechanics

Gary E. Bowman

Oxford University Press

This chapter first discusses statistical techniques and concepts — including probability, probability distribution, average and expectation value, and uncertainty — that are relevant to quantum mechanics. The physical interpretation of probability in quantum mechanics is then discussed. It is argued that by adopting the statistical interpretation, one can think clearly about quantum mechanics without committing to any of the various physical interpretations, and without tackling the conceptual hurdles that they present. The history and substance of interpretational issues in quantum mechanics is then briefly discussed, the point being to introduce these profound, unresolved questions without taking sides in ongoing scientific debates. The chapter closes with a personal reflection on Albert Einstein, the most revered and fascinating figure in physics, and the one most famously at odds with the conventional interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Keywords:   probability, probability distribution, expectation value, uncertainty, statistical interpretation, Albert Einstein

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