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Assignment No.

(due Friday, October 19)

1. We defined the uncertainty ∆A of an observable corresponding to an operator  in

some state |ψ⟩ as the expectation value of the rms deviation from the mean:
[ ( )2 ]1/2
∆A = ⟨ψ| Â − ⟨ψ|Â|ψ⟩ |ψ⟩
[ ]1/2
= ⟨ψ|Â2 |ψ⟩ − ⟨ψ|Â|ψ⟩2 .

We also showed that if  and B̂ are two observables, the product of their joint
uncertainty in the state |ψ⟩ must obey the relation
∆A∆B ≥ |⟨ψ|[Â, B̂]|ψ⟩|. (1)
Find the uncertainty product ∆x∆p for a particle in the energy eigenstate |En ⟩ of the
harmonic oscillator, and show that the result is consistent with Eq. (1).

2. A particle of mass m is trapped in a harmonic oscillator potential V (x) = 21 mω 2 x2 .

The particle has a charge e, and is subjected to a constant electric field E in the x
direction. Hence the particle experiences an additional interaction term −eEx.

(a) To first order in E, what is the energy of the nth excited state?
(b) To first order in E, find the values the coefficients cnk for the perturbative
expansion of the state
∑ (1)
|ψn ⟩ = |ϕn ⟩ + cnk |ϕk ⟩ .

(c) Calculate the energy shift to second order in E.

(d) Calculate the exact energy eigenvalues, and show that they are consistent with
your perturbative results in parts (a-c). (Hint: Consider what happens to the
potential 21 mω 2 x2 if you replace x by x − b, which is simply a shift of the origin.)

3. Consider a particle of mass m that is bouncing vertically and elastically on a hard

reflecting surface, so that V (z) = mgz for z > 0 and V (z) = ∞ for z ≤ 0. The
ground state wavefunction of this particle has no nodes and must vanish at z = 0.
Use the variational method to estimate the ground state energy of this particle,
assuming the trial wavefunction

ψ(z; α) = Aze−αz ,

where α is the variational parameter and A is the normalization constant. Compare

your result to the exact numerical answer
( )1/3
E0exact = 1.856 mg 2 h̄2 .