Physics:The Principles of Quantum Mechanics

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The Principles of Quantum Mechanics is an influential monograph on quantum mechanics written by Paul Dirac and first published by Oxford University Press in 1930.[1] Dirac gives an account of quantum mechanics by "demonstrating how to construct a completely new theoretical framework from scratch"; "problems were tackled top-down, by working on the great principles, with the details left to look after themselves".[2] It leaves classical physics behind after the first chapter, presenting the subject with a logical structure. Its 82 sections contain 785 equations with no diagrams.[2]

Dirac is credited with developing the subject "particularly in Cambridge and Göttingen between 1925–1927" (Farmelo).[2]


The first and second editions of the book were published in 1930 and 1935.[3]

In 1947 the third edition of the book was published, in which the chapter on quantum electrodynamics was rewritten particularly with the inclusion of electron-positron creation.[3]

In the fourth edition, 1958, the same chapter was revised, adding new sections on interpretation and applications. Later a revised fourth edition appeared in 1967.[3]

Beginning with the third edition (1947), the mathematical descriptions of quantum states and operators were changed to use the Bra–ket notation, introduced in 1939 and largely developed by Dirac himself [4]


  • The principle of superposition
  • Dynamical variables and observables
  • Representations
  • The quantum conditions
  • The equations of motion
  • Elementary applications
  • Perturbation theory
  • Collision problems
  • Systems containing several similar particles
  • Theory of radiation
  • Relativistic theory of the electron
  • Quantum electrodynamics

See also

  • The Evolution of Physics (Einstein)
  • The Feynman Lectures on Physics (Feynman)
  • The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory (Heisenberg)


  1. "Paul A.M. Dirac – Biography". The Nobel Prize in Physics 1933. Retrieved September 26, 2011. "Dirac's publications include ... The Principles of Quantum Mechanics (1930; 3rd ed. 1947)." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Farmelo, Graham (June 2, 1995). "Speaking Volumes: The Principles of Quantum Mechanics" (Book review). Times Higher Education Supplement: 20. Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dalitz, R. H. (1995). The Collected Works of P. A. M. Dirac: Volume 1: 1924–1948. Cambridge University Press. pp. 453–454. ISBN 9780521362313. 
  4. PAM Dirac (1939). "A new notation for quantum mechanics". Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 35 (3): 416–418. doi:10.1017/S0305004100021162. Bibcode1939PCPS...35..416D. Principles of Quantum Mechanics was the original source. Read more.