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Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors

Keywords: linear algebra, eigenvalues, eigenvectors, middle-division, quantum mechanics

Highlights of the activity

  1. Students work in small groups to calculate the eigenvalues and eigenvectors for a designated 2×2 or 3×3 matrix.
  2. Students then discuss the results of their calculations.

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

While students entering their third year as physics majors have learned methods for finding eigenvalues and eigenvectors in their linear algebra class, in many cases, they have forgotten the basic methods involved. This activity emphasizes examples with complex eigenvectors, hermitian matrices (with explicit dimensions) that arise in quantum mechanics, commuting matrices, and degeneracy.


Instructor's Guide

Student Handouts



Authors: Corinne Manogue
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