MathGroup Archive 2009

[Date Index] [Thread Index] [Author Index]

Search the Archive

Re: Problems with functions of a Complex Variable

On Aug 27, 8:38 pm, Sergio Miguel Terrazas Porras <sterr... at>
> Dear Group:
> I am trying to illustrate with Mathematica 7.0.1 some of the concepts of Quantum Mechanics.
> In particular, for the particle in an Infinite Square Well, I define the time dependent Wave Function (Sum of Sines times Complex Exponentials ) Ok.
> Using only the first 3 terms of the series, I run into the following:
> If I use ComplexExpand[ ] I get things of the form a + I b, which, I would assume means to Mathematica that a and b are Real.
> I then ask for the Conjugate of the preceding expresi=F3n, and I get things like Conjugate[a] - I*Conjugate[b].  (??)
> If I plot the Probability Density Function, things are Ok. (Its Real)
> If I try to calculate the (time dependent) expected value of x, Assuming[Element[{x,t},Reals],Integrate[x*psi*Congugate[psi],{x,0,a}]
> Matem=E1tica hangs forever even though its only nine integrals.
> Any help will be very much appreciated.
> Sergio Terrazas

Hi there,
When you use ComplexExpand, Mathematica does indeed expand the
expression assuming that all variables (in this case a and b) are
real. However, this assumption only applies within that function call,
so in the subsequent call to Conjugate a and b are once again assumed
to be completely arbitrary complex quantities.

There are a few ways to do the conjugation in the way you are looking
for. One which I have occasionally found useful is to change the sign
of explicit complex numbers using something like

expr /. Complex[x_,y_] :> Complex[x,y]

Alternatively, using Simplify with appropriate Assumptions will also

Conjugate[a+I*b] // Simplify[#, Element[{a,b}, Reals]]&

It can be something of a minefield trying to evaluate integrals etc
with symbolic quantities that are possibly complex. It's generally
simplest if you can express things in terms of real-valued symbols,
apply Simplify etc to get the integrand in explicit form (i.e. free of
Conjugate), and then carry out integrals.

Here is a simple example related to your case (i've suppressed


(* basis function *)
psi[n_,x_,t_] = Sqrt[2]*Exp[-I*n^2*t]*Sin[n*Pi*x];

(* some linear combination which will have non-trivial time-dependence
f[x_,t_] = psi[1,x,t] + I*psi[2,x,t];

(* visualize the functions over the box 0<x<1 *)

(* carry out integrals of individual basis functions to show
orthonormality *)
Table[Integrate[psi[m,x,0]*Conjugate@psi[n,x,0], {x,0,1}], {m,3}, {n,
3}] // MatrixForm

(* some linear combination which will have non-trivial time-
dependence, with REAL coefficients a[n] *)
f[x_,t_] = Sum[a[n]*psi[n,x,t], {n,3}]

(* get the probability density using Conjugate and ComplexExpand
(assumes a[n], x, t are all real) *)
absSq[x_,t_] = f[x,t]*Conjugate@f[x,t] // ComplexExpand

(* now do the integral *)
Integrate[absSq[x,t], {x,0,1}]

Hope this helps and good luck!


  • Prev by Date: Re: Viewing packages in mathematica
  • Next by Date: Re: ColorFunction on a linux system (xorg) loses graphics
  • Previous by thread: Re: Problems with functions of a Complex Variable
  • Next by thread: interpolating function as initial condition