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Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum (Theoretical Minimum)

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  668 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
From the bestselling author of The Theoretical Minimum, a DIY introduction to the math and science of quantum physics

First he taught you classical mechanics. Now, physicist Leonard Susskind has teamed up with data engineer Art Friedman to present the theory and associated mathematics of the strange world of quantum mechanics.

In this follow-up to The Theoretical Minimum, Su
Paperback, 364 pages
Published 2015 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Manny by: Anyone who wants to understand quantum mechanics and knows some math
Shelves: science
I've finished volume one and now I'm dying to find out what happens next. Talk about a cliffhanger ending!

I must confess that I didn't enjoy the second volume quite as much as the first, but that mainly shows how high the bar was; this is still the best introduction to quantum mechanics I have ever seen, and if you have some mathematical background (linear algebra, calculus) I can't recommend it too highly. It requires some effort to read, but it's definitely wo
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a really nice introductory book on Quantum Mechanics - Quantum Mechanics done for real, with some decent detail and good mathematical treatment of some of its most important aspects.

As a list of prerequisites for fully enjoying this book, I would recommend the following:
- read volume 1 (on Classical Mechanics) which is simply fantastic on its own
- basic knowledge of linear algebra, calculus and complex vector (Hilbert) spaces

The author is great at explaining potentially tricky and compl
Roy Lotz
We could, of course, use any notation we want; do not laugh at notations; invent them, they are powerful. In fact, mathematics is, to a large extent, invention of better notations.

—Richard Feynman

I’m a bit sad to be finally putting this book down. Now, I can no longer tell friends and coworkers that I’m reading a book about the mathematics of quantum mechanics. Oh well.

I’ve already written a fairly detailed review of the first volume (which can be found here); and since this volume is very sim
Peter Mcloughlin
I read this book in July of 2014 but be rest assured this is not light summer reading. This book is much more than a popularization of Quantum mechanics it gets you into the nuts and bolts of the mathematical equations. It is very difficult reading but the author does make herculean attempts to bring the material down to earth for us mortals. This is book I am afraid one will have to read several times to digest. However if one wants to know the mathematics behind the apparent madness of QM I ca ...more
Ryan Cutter
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sciencey-stuff
Great introduction to the subject giving a very insightful depth to linear algebra. Unlike most books for quantum mechanics this book requires that you have some fundamental knowledge. This brings me to my first issue. For some reason it is expected of you to have read the earlier book published about classical mechanics, although my training in this has come from other means fortunately; people buying this book separate from the other theoretical minimum series without training in classical dyn ...more
Squatting Erudite
Susskind's Theoretical Minimum series might not be everybody's cup of tea, but I'm really beginning to love this style (way more than the video lectures, I should add!).

It's not your usual popular science with so much hand waving and analogies it almost feels like patronising, but it's not the usual cold and formal textbook style either.

Susskind manages to explain all the core ideas of the theory in a beautiful and coherent way. Some details must, of course, be omitted, but there's no BS and swe
Galen Weitkamp
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spooky Action at a Distance by George Musser
Quantum Mechanics the Theoretical Minimum by Leonard Susskind and Art Friedman

review by Galen Weitkamp

Perhaps it’s unfair to compare these two works given the differences in the intent of their authors. George Musser is fascinated by what some identify as the nonlocal nature of the measurement process in quantum theory. It seems to this reader that his intent is not only to inform but to convince the reader of its “reality” and the consequences that
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am putting this book on hold for now. I started reading it during a long voyage and it was very interesting and invigorating, like a good workout for the brain. But as soon as I got back to work, I lost the stamina necessary to keep up with the book.
It is hard. The math is real and you have to learn a whole new vocabulary to follow the explanations.
But even if I read only a half of this, I got what I wanted originally. My big question to quantum mechanics was something like "Don't they see ho
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, reviewed
The motivation for this book is to explain the fundamental ideas of quantum mechanics (QM) in such a way that readers with very little mathematical knowledge (some calculus, vectors in 3-space) are able to understand it. In this, the book is mostly successful.
As someone with a broader mathematical background who learned some QM before, I was mostly interested in the pedagogical angle the book would take. Most physics books introduce QM from a historical point of view, reviewing the problems lead
An excellent continuation of The Theoretical Minimum, which is a prerequisite to reading this book.

I say here that I've "read" this book, but so far I've only skimmed to get the lay of the land. Because this is not a bullshit popularized treatment of quantum mechanics, it takes actual work and concentration to make your way through it and really understand the mathematics. So this is going to be my background reading for some time to come.
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, nonfiction
Excellent, effective, and entertaining. Compared to the first volume, The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics, this one has much more accurate editing and typesetting, along with a better co-author. This series of books is destined to be classic.
G.R. Reader
Susskind shows you how beautiful quantum mechanics is. He does a great job - it's almost impossible to believe that something as cool and elegant as this wouldn't be true. Well... string theory is even cooler and even more elegant, so that must be true too. You see?

Okay Len, nice try. But I wasn't born yesterday.

Alex Nelson
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
Considering this was written for a lay audience (or, perhaps more accurately, a mathematically savvy but not-too-knowledgeable audience), it's quite a remarkable book.

The focus is on finite dimensional systems (i.e., quantum information) initially. This is a similar approach, if I recall correctly, that Isham takes in his Lectures on Quantum Theory: Mathematical and Structural Foundations.

Susskind nicely avoids the problematic terminology physicists have with dimensions. The free particle in one
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic introduction to quantum mechanics. It goes over vector and wavefunction formalisms, and discusses almost all the math you need to understand (you'll need calculus before reading this book).

The book starts from a discussion of electron spins, and develops quantum mechanics to explain how spin changes on measurements or if placed in a magnetic field. The Schroedinger equation is derived and explained, and then applied to harmonic oscillators in general.

This book is engaging, we
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leonard Susskind puts quantum mechanics in the most entertaining and relatable terms. All you need to understand all this is calculus, linear algebra, statistics and probability. I haven't got all my linear algebra down, but so far haven't run into anything I couldn't figure out within 5 mins of googling.
Jeremy Sawruk
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
Good followup to my Stanford course on quantum mechanics.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4,5. An educational beginning and a fantastic introduction to quantum mechanics but it certainly makes your head spin!
Brian Clegg
I saw this book on the shelves in my local booksellers which are usually reserved for books which are new, interesting and likely to sell a lot of copies. They were right on two out of them, but they were in cloud cuckoo land on the ‘lot of copies’ part (unless we get a ‘Brief History of Time effect’ where lots buy it and don’t read it). This is a new and interesting book, and for the niche it is aimed at it is brilliant – but that is a narrow niche indeed.

Usually there are two kinds of science
Ho letto diversi libri che parlano di fisica, meccanica quantistica compresa, ma tutti questi lo facevano a livello divulgativo, mettendo da parte il formalismo matematico (o usandone una versione molto semplificata), che pure è fondamentale nella scienza moderna. Questo libro è diverso: non è un classico saggio divulgativo, ma un'introduzione alla meccanica quantistica che sfrutta appieno la matematica. È rivolto a chi, pur non essendo un fisico, è appassionato di fisica e ha già almeno una con ...more
William Schram
This book is a continuation of The Theoretical Minimum which covered Classical Mechanics in physics. Using simple language and explaining the terminology, Susskind and Friedman go through the basics of Quantum Mechanics. They talk about eigenvectors and eigenvalues, bra-ket notation, wave forms, uncertainty and linear operators. Even more is covered, but you get the basic idea I hope.

This book leaves some things to the reader, for instance, you might have to prove some sort of mathematical theor
James F
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sequel to The Theoretical Minimum, which dealt with classical physics, this book explains the basics of quantum theory in a simple (but not oversimplified) way beginning with spin states and working through the Schrödinger equation, combinations of states, entanglement, and the uncertainty principle. The first half of the book introduces the mathematics of complex vector spaces in a very understandable way (I had never studied linear algebra at all, even with real vectors, and I had no troub ...more
Neelakantan K.K.
Great book but becomes difficult fairly quickly. Be prepared to read sections over and over again to understand some of the concepts better. Presented very well, but some bits could have done with a bit more explanation. The notation could also be clearer in some areas which would have reduced the difficulty a bit. I haven't read Volume I on classical mechanics yet, and maybe reading that first would have made it a bit easier to follow things here but it doesn't hamper understanding. Also, a pri ...more
Richard Thompson
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
I have read a lot of popular physics books that left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied. Finally I have found a book that I can almost completely understand that does not pull any punches. It was sometimes a slog to get through the material, and I will probably have to do some additional reading before it all completely sinks in, but now I finally feel that I have the grounding to be able to move on to higher level material. There is a bit of hand waving in the math in this book, which bothered me a ...more
Jul 26, 2015 added it
Shelves: science, technical
Wow, that has been a very nice journey. This book is not an easy job, especially if your physics definitions are a bit rusty. But it is definitely a self-contained and you need very little to go through it. The only things you need is courage, persistence and an open mind for grasping new way of thinking.

This is really a great introduction to fundamental Quantum Mechanics, which might allow you to go deeper in the field and sub-fields. However, it is just the current state of how QM is described
Tuan Do
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came across this book accidentally when I stopped by a video lecture of Professor Susskind recommended on my Youtube. His name caught my eyes immediately as I already heard of how he won against Stephen Hawking on Information Paradox.
His book is in fact restatements of his video lectures. In each chapter, he starts with some basic mathematical formulas and notations, working out the quantum equations and pointing out misconceptions. He shows that quantum mechanics are not only about point par
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
You're suppose to read Susskind's "The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics" first and have it on hand as you read this book since he references it several times. My physics level is very low, but have taken Calc 1-3, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations and still found the math in the book very hard to follow. I would recommend working with a teacher to help with that. The answers to questions can be found online. When I read it again I'm sure it will all become m ...more
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a nice follow up to the first about classical mechanics. I'd highly recommend going through that one first. This isn't a quick read through book. If you want to see what quantum mechanics is really like you will get an idea in this book. What I appreciate about Susskind's presentation is that he keeps it to what he thinks are the most important principles to focus on how those play out by exploring, say, the nature of entanglement mathematically.
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the book, as the courses, is intended to non specialists.
Ans it works, i thought it was interesting, technical enough, and at my reach.

except for some steps that are missing.
strangely enough, sometimes the process was over-detailed to me, and sometimes, not enough. There are steps I just could not understand. no matter how hard i tried.

I guess it probably is very difficult to find the right level for such a great specialist.
I would suggest another proof reading by potential readers.
Pero Krivić
Not as easy or smooth as the first book on Theoretical Minimum series. Susskind gives his best to put the quantum mechanics in the simple language but after first few chapters losses readers attention amidst hard and unvisualizable concepts of linear algebra. This often happens to authors who start off explaining QM from the Heisenberg matrices notation instead of Schrödinger wave function way (Even though these two are same at the core, Schrödinger wave function is much easier to comprehend).
Pluto Person
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics, science
An excellent introduction to the principles of quantum mechanics! It is simple enough for the public to understand without eschewing the mathematics. I believe this is the principle of the book: to demonstrate that physics is not only a highly (emphasis on that word) mathematical subject, but also one that is very intriguing and labyrinthine. Furthermore, this is a short review, but it is a fantastic read as long as you are ready to handle some exhausting math.
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Leonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an associate member of the faculty of Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Phys ...more

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“world seems filled with people who are genuinely, deeply interested in physics but whose lives have taken them in different directions. This book is for all of us.” 1 likes
“The units that we use reflect our own size. The origin of the meter seems to be that it was used to measure rope or cloth: it’s about the distance from a person’s nose to his or her outstretched fingers. A second is about as long as a heartbeat. And a kilogram is a nice weight to carry around. We use these units because they are convenient, but fundamental physics doesn’t care that much about us. The” 0 likes
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