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The Theory of Groups and Quantum Mechanics [Paperback]

Hermann Weyl
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 1950 0486602699 978-0486602691
This landmark among mathematics texts applies group theory to quantum mechanics, first covering unitary geometry, quantum theory, groups and their representations, then applications themselves — rotation, Lorentz, permutation groups, symmetric permutation groups, and the algebra of symmetric transformations.

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About the Author

Along with his fundamental contributions to most branches of mathematics, Hermann Weyl (1885-1955) took a serious interest in theoretical physics. In addition to teaching in Zürich, Göttingen, and Princeton, Weyl worked with Einstein on relativity theory at the Institute for Advanced Studies.

Hermann Weyl: The Search for Beautiful Truths
One of the most influential mathematicians of the twentieth century, Hermann Weyl (1885–1955) was associated with three major institutions during his working years: the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), the University of Gottingen, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In the last decade of Weyl's life (he died in Princeton in 1955), Dover reprinted two of his major works, The Theory of Groups and Quantum Mechanics and Space, Time, Matter. Two others, The Continuum and The Concept of a Riemann Surface were added to the Dover list in recent years.

In the Author's Own Words:
"My work always tried to unite the truth with the beautiful, but when I had to choose one or the other, I usually chose the beautiful."

"We are not very pleased when we are forced to accept mathematical truth by virtue of a complicated chain of formal conclusions and computations, which we traverse blindly, link by link, feeling our way by touch. We want first an overview of the aim and of the road; we want to understand the idea of the proof, the deeper context."

"A modern mathematical proof is not very different from a modern machine, or a modern test setup: the simple fundamental principles are hidden and almost invisible under a mass of technical details." — Hermann Weyl

Critical Acclaim for Space, Time, Matter:
"A classic of physics . . . the first systematic presentation of Einstein's theory of relativity." — British Journal for Philosophy and Science

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Customer Reviews

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4.0 out of 5 stars Still a good book Feb. 26 2003
Written in the early years of the quantum theory, the author of this book foresaw the importance of considering symmetry in physics, the use of which now pervades most of theoretical high energy physics. Indeed, with the advent of gauge theories, and their experimental validation, it is readily apparent that symmetry principles are here to stay, and are just not accidental curiosities. A reader of the book can still gain a lot from the perusal of this book, in spite of its date of publication and its somewhat antiquated notation. Older books also have the advantage of discussing the material more in-depth, and do not hesitate to use hand-waving geometrical pictures when appropriate. This approach results in greater insight into the subject, and when coupled with eventual mathematical rigor gives it a solid foundation. One example where the discussion is superior to modern texts is in the author's discussion of group characters and their application to irreducible representations and spectra in atomic systems.
The reader will no doubt probably want to couple the reading of this book with a more modern text so as to alleviate the notational oddities in this book. The author's presentation is clear enough though to make an appropriate translation to modern notation. The reader will then be well prepared to tackle more advanced material in mathematical and theoretical physics that make use of the group-theoretic constructions that take place in this book.
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The other one is Wigner's "Group Theory and Quantum Mechanics". As it is true of the other great books by Weyl, this is not an easy book, but it is, by all means, accessible. Don't try to read it in front of the TV set. Get pencil and paper, put yourself in a calm and contemplative mood and patiently read the words of the master. Hermann Weyl, one of the great minds of the 20th century, wrote this book with utmost care to make it self-contained. Sometimes you have to be deep in order to be brief, so the book requires some thought. But the main ideas are all there, and the connection of group theory with quantum mechanics has here its best treatment, in my humble opinion. But in less humble too: this was the only book concerning physics which Enrico Fermi read as a grown up. Once, Max Born had to write a synthetic exposition of Quantum Mechanics. After he finished it, he saw, for the first time, this book, and Weyl's synthesis of QM. He felt depressed by the superiority of Weyl's text. The book was originally written in German, but the translation is excellent, due to the great American cosmologist H. P. Robertson, of Robertson-Walker fame.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic from the early days of quantum mechanics June 27 2000
By A Customer
Although published by Dover in 1984, this book dates back to about 1930, when Weyl was the big proponent of group theory in quantum mechanics. Because of this date, much of what modern books on group theory would include, is absent from the book. It mainly discusses the permutation group. The book is, however, of historic interest, as Weyl (mathematician) tried to convince the physicists to exploit group theory - which even gave rise to some irritation ("group pest").
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book Nov. 7 2001
This is my favorite introduction to quantum mechanics. It is a difficult book, because it is succinct, though clear, and reflects Weyl's powerful intellect and original approach at every step. Each page is a challenge, but worth the effort.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Please create an audio adaptation ... June 1 1999
To the publisher I would appreciate it if the publisher could produce an audio adaptation of this book. I would love to listen to this while I drive to work and to let my 16 month old son listen to it as a bedtime story. Arnold D Veness
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