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Introduction to PT-symmetric quantum theory

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In most introductory courses on quantum mechanics one is taught that the Hamiltonian operator must be Hermitian in order that the energy levels be real and that the theory be unitary (probability conserving). To express the Hermiticity of a Hamiltonian, one writes H ?=? H † , where the symbol † denotes the usual Dirac Hermitian conjugation; that is, transpose and complex conjugate. In the past few years it has been recognized that the requirement of Hermiticity, which is often stated as an axiom of quantum mechanics, may be replaced by the less mathematical and more physical requirement of space?–?time reflection symmetry (???? symmetry) without losing any of the essential physical features of quantum mechanics. Theories defined by non-Hermitian ????-symmetric Hamiltonians exhibit strange and unexpected properties at the classical as well as at the quantum level. This paper explains how the requirement of Hermiticity can be evaded and discusses the properties of some non-Hermitian ????-symmetric quantum theories.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, London, SW7 2BZ, UK

Publication date: 01 July 2005

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