Physics 2 : 2019-20 @ Caltech

News Course Information Sections, Office Hours and Grading Schedule Calendar Notes Homework/Solutions

Course Information

Ph2b (2019-20 Winter Term)

Welcome to Ph2b: Quantum Mechanics

This is an introductory course on foundational quantum concepts, the quantum harmonic oscillator, the Hydrogen atom and spin systems. Abstractions and concrete examples will also be discussed with application across a broad range of phenomena and fields.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, you will be able to:
  • Understand the probablistic nature in microscopic phenomena. Explain measurements in the language of Hilbert spaces. Describe when a system has discrete or continuous spectra. Solve the simplest but non-trivial examples of systems with exact solutions.
  • Understand the role of the spin in a particle and how it affects the dynamics when coupled to a magnetic source. Interpret and analyze a wide range of quantum mechanical systems which are building blocks for more complicated systems in the real world.
  • Apply your knowledge to begin understanding more advanced topics in Cosmology, High Energy Physics, Condensed Matter, etc.

    Lecturer:

    Clifford Cheung
    432 Downs Lauritsen, Ext. 6595
    Office Hour: After lecture, or by email/appointment.

    Head TA:

    Michael Morales Curi
    307 East Bridge
    e-mail:

    Course Secretary:

    Freddy Mora
    156 Linde Hall, Ext. 4336
    e-mail:

    Lecture and Recitations:


  • Lectures: Tuesdays and Thursdays 11-11:55am in 201 E. Bridge
  • Recitations: Wednesday and Friday. Check out the Sections, Office Hours and Grading Schedule tab above for more details.

    Textbook:

    Griffiths, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, 2nd Edition.
    ISBN-13: 978-0131118928 ISBN-10: 0-13-111892-7.

    The international version ISBN numbers are ISBN-13: 978-0131911758. ISBN-10: 0-13-191175-9. Beware that there are some defective copies under the name "Pearson New International Edition", whose contents are different from the standard 2nd edition.

    Section Changes:

    You are encouraged to find a recitation section that is both enjoyable and beneficial. If you are dissatisfied with your assigned section, feel free to sit in on another one. If you decide to change sections,first get the signature of the instructor of the new section, on your yellow card. Then get the course secretary to sign the drop column on the yellow card. Section times and locations are available on the Sections, Office Hours and Grading Schedule tab above and also the registrar's webpage (http://schedules.caltech.edu/WI2019-20.html#dept_details_PHYSICS). However, the instructors sometimes change room assignments: the course secretary should have the most up-to-date information.

    Homework Assignments:

  • Homeworks will be due every Thursday by 11 am (just before lecture). Assignments will have to be submitted online on Gradescope . Submissions should not be turned into the dropbox in Bridge. Students will receive an email link at the beginning of the term to sign up for the course on Gradescope. If you don't receive the link you can still sign up by making your own account on Gradescope website and sign up for the course using the Ph2b entry code MP338Y.
  • You are suggested not to use your access.caltech password for making a Gradescope account since this is an external website. More details on Gradescope submission can be found here. Once an assignment has been fully graded, you will be able to see your graded submission on Gradescope itself. Any regrade requests should be emailed to the Head TA and cannot be requested through Gradescope.
  • You are encouraged to work the problems with others and to seek out additional help, if you find that useful, but the written work, must be all your own. You should be able to reproduce any solution, you hand in, without help from anyone else.
  • In order to reduce confusion on new versus old editions of the book, we will also post pdfs on the homework questions on Homework/Quiz/Solutions tab above.

    Extension Policy:

    Assignments will be accepted up to one week late for half credit. Requests for extensions, owing to special circumstances, will not be considered unless accompanied by a note from the Dean of Students to the Head TA. One free extension (for up to one week) is allowed without question (your silver bullet) for full credit. Please put a note at the top of your problem set that you are using your silver bullet.

    Quizzes:

    Quizzes will be due on Wednesdays at 4:00 pm throughout the term and will have to be submitted electronically on Gradescope (just like homeworks) . The quizzes must be worked on your own, without collaboration with/from others. Late quizzes will not be accepted, without a Note from the Dean of Students (notes from health services, roommates, etc., will not be accepted). In the case of extenuating circumstances, known in advance, please speak to Prof. Clifford Cheung.

    Exams & Grading:

    There will be a final exam covering the entire term. There will be no midterm exam. Your grade for the course will be determined by your performance on the final exam (40%), quizzes (30%), and homework, combined with your attendance, performance in recitation class and general level of effort (30%).

    Piazza:

    We will be using Piazza as a collaborative and interactive online workspace where you can ask questions, discuss concepts and brainstorm with the course instructors and your fellow classmates. And yes, you can post anonymously here. Here is the link to the class' Piazza: here. You should be enrolled automatically to the Piazza but you can also use the previous link to join.

    Ombuds:

    Ombudsfolk are student volunteers who represent the students of each of the undergrad houses. They collect suggestions, comments, complaints, etc, and discuss them with the course instructor and TAs at periodic meetings (free lunch!). This is the best way to transmit your viewpoint on the course, to the instructors. Talk to your ombudsperson! Each house should select an ombudsperson. The recitation TAs will have lunch with the Ombuds on Jan 30 and if necessary again on Feb 20 . Students are also encouraged to discuss any problems regarding the course, directly with Prof. Cheung, or head TA, Michael after lecture/recitation or by appointment.

    Collaboration Policies:


    Collaboration is encouraged and and is intended to reflect real-life problem-solving experience. A good practice is to first give problems a good try by yourself. Then maybe you will have the satisfaction of explaining it to your colleague. However, whatever you turn in should be what you think you understand. Imagine someone asking you to explain it. If you use some resource on the web for a problem, reference it!

    You may consult Homework Exams/Quizzes
    Course textbook
    (including answers in the back)
    and posted class notes
    Yes Yes
    Other books Yes No
    Solutions manuals No No
    Wikipedia/online encyclopedias Yes No
    Problem specific web sources from
    Quora/physics stack-exchange
    No No
    Your notes (taken in class) Yes Yes
    Class notes of others Yes No
    Your hand copies of class notes of others Yes Yes
    Photocopies of class notes of others Yes No
    Electronic copies of class notes of others Yes No
    Course handouts Yes Yes
    Your returned homework/quizzes/exams Yes Yes
    Solutions to this year's prior
    homeworks/quizzes/exams (posted on webpage)
    Yes Yes
    Homework/quizzes/exams of previous years No No
    Solutions to homework/quizzes/exams
    of previous years
    No No
    Emails from TAs Yes No
    For computational aids, you may use: Homework Exams/Quizzes
    Calculators Yes Yes
    Computers Yes No
    Mathematica Yes No