Calculus for Functions of Noncommuting Operators and General Phase-Space Methods in Quantum Mechanics. II. Quantum Mechanics in Phase Space Academic Article uri icon


  • In Paper I of this investigation a new calculus for functions of noncommuting operators was developed, based on the notion of mapping of operators onto c-number functions. With the help of this calculus, a general theory is formulated, in the present paper, of phase-space representation of quantum-mechanical systems. It is shown that there is a whole class of such representations, one associated with each type of mapping, the simplest one being the well-known representation due to Weyl. For each representation, the quantum-mechanical expectation value of an operator is found to be expressible in the form of a phase-space average of classical statistical mechanics. The phase-space distribution functions are, however, not true probabilities, in general. The phase-space forms of the main quantum-mechanical equations of motion are obtained and are found to have the form of a generalized Liouville equation. The phase-space form of the Bloch equation for the density operator of a quantum system in thermal equilibrium is also derived. The generalized characteristic functions of boson systems are defined and their main properties are studied. The equations of motion for the characteristic functions are also derived. As an illustration of the theory, a generalized stochastic description of a quantized electromagnetic field is obtained. 1970 The American Physical Society.

published proceedings

  • Physical Review D

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Agarwal, G. S., & Wolf, E.

citation count

  • 210

complete list of authors

  • Agarwal, GS||Wolf, E

publication date

  • November 1970