6.050J | Spring 2008 | Undergraduate

Information and Entropy

Unit 10: Physical Systems


  • Notes, Chapter 10: Physical Systems (PDF)
  • Steane, Andrew M., and Wim van Dam. “Physicists Triumph at Guess My Number.” Physics Today 53 (February 2000): 35–39.
    A charming introduction to superdense coding, in which the transmission of a classical bit can convey more than a bit of information if the channel is set up in advance using quantum entanglement.




There are many Web sites that discuss quantum mechanics. Naturally, some are better than others, and some assume a higher level of expertise on the part of visitors than others. Here are a few.


The pioneers of quantum mechanics


  • There are many excellent textbooks dealing with quantum mechanics at the graduate or advanced undergraduate level. Unfortunately there is little if anything in the way of good explanations at a simpler level. An excellent set of notes, by MIT faculty, for a graduate course, is
    Hagelstein, Peter L., Stephen D. Senturia, and Terry P. Orlando. Introduction to Applied Quantum and Statistical Physics. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2004. ISBN: 9780471202769.
  • The predictions of quantum mechanics have been verified repeatedly in careful experiments, and the theory has been used effectively in the design of practical systems. Nevertheless, it cannot be explained in terms that are compatible with everyday experience. The field that tries to do this is sometimes called the “philosophy of quantum mechanics.” One of the best, most readable books describing the status of such attempts is
    Polkinghorne, John. Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780192802521.
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets with Solutions
Online Textbook
Programming Assignments