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PERC 2011 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Making sense of operators, eigenstates and quantum measurements
Abstract: Operators play a central role in the formalism of quantum mechanics. In particular, operators corresponding to observables encode important information about the results of quantum measurements. We interviewed upper-level undergraduate physics majors and graduate students about their understanding of the role of operators in quantum measurements. Previous studies have shown that many students think of measurements on quantum systems as being deterministic and that measurements mathematically correspond to operators acting on the initial quantum state. This study is consistent with and expands on these results. We report on how students make sense of a quantum measurement problem involving sequential measurements and the role that the eigenvalue equation plays in this sense-making. We find that although these students recognized the importance of the eigenvalue equation, a misuse of superposition leads to unproductive analyses.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Elizabeth Gire
University of Memphis
242 Deloach St
Memphis, TN 38111
Phone: 901-678-1668
and Co-Presenter(s)
Corinne Manogue