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Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum

(Theoretical Minimum)

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  1,220 ratings  ·  113 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
Manuel Antão
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

ΔE Δt ≥ ℏ/2: "Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum" by Leonard Susskind, Art Friedman

I was on a train the other week and I was sitting opposite Einstein who asked me if I would mind changing seats because he liked to see where he was going for a half a journey and then he liked to see where he had been for the other half of the journey and I told him I didn't mind changing seats and I asked him if he minded me asking him if he wa
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
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum is the second book in the Theoretical Minimum series. The first book was about classical mechanics, covering both Newtonian and advanced mechanics, and in a way it felt like a preparation for quantum mechanics. Having read this book, I can safely say that quantum mechanics is even weirder than I thought.

The first half of the book moves at a slow speed. In that sense it reminded me of the first book, just introducing the reader to the necessary tools and
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 s
Ivan Vuković
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: reviewed, science
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
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. ...more
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.

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
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. ...more
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.
Sayed H Fatimi
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A deeply succinct introduction to the world of Quantum Mechanics, the foundations that govern our world, and the basis on which future discoveries of physical laws will be built. Leonard and Art do a wonderful tribute to the big players of the late 19th - early 20th century from Maxwell to Einstein, and my personal favourite, Paul Dirac; whilst I believe having a precursory knowledge of the mathematics involved is useful, with the structure of the literature involved it is not entirely necessary ...more
Myat Thura Aung
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never thought learning the essentials of quantum mechanics would be this easy. It's probably because I'm a math student tho, and sadly it might be challenging for those who are not so familiar with maths. (But hey, the series do introduce you to the mathematical concepts that you need to know.) I think I can safely say that this serves as the most acccessible introductory text on quantum mechanics. ...more
Jun 13, 2020 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
DNF at page 64. I tried I really did. My brain just isn’t cut out for a book that is clearly written for people much smarter than me.
If anything, I’m now convinced that Physics isn’t the A Level subject for me. I’ll probably choose History instead.
Alex Telfar
I didn't like this book.

I think it approches teching QM entirely the wrong way.
- They start from math and show that it can be used to describe QM. This seems backwards to me. We should learn about quantum phenomena, the data, and then stumble on some math than can help us describe that data.

Also, I think their interpretation of QM doesn't make any sense.
- Waves of probability, spin just 'is', entanglement and spooky action at a distnace, observables are treated differently, ... I mean come on.

Julian Schrittwieser
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Approachable introduction to Quantum Mechanics, assuming you are comfortable with some mathematics. I especially liked the explanation of measurement apparatus vs system under measurement, and how one way of viewing a measurement is to say that the apparatus becomes entangled with the system!
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
Nathan Velson
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again, the Theoretical Minimum takes you past the pop-science to take a real look at the mathematical foundations of physics, in this case quantum mechanics, building on the formulation of classical mechanics from the first book. And once again, for someone who has learned a bit about quantum mechanics in various school/work contexts, I was surprised how much more there was to it than I was aware.
I get a feeling that a lot of introductory physics courses teach QM in the order that it was d
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
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
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
Jul 26, 2015 added it
Shelves: technical, science
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
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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

Other books in the series

Theoretical Minimum (3 books)
  • The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics (Theoretical Minimum #1)
  • Special Relativity and Classical Field Theory: The Theoretical Minimum

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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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