nLab Paul Dirac

Selected writings

Early discussion of the foundations of quantum mechanics (including the possibly first consideration of what came to be known as the Slater determinant):

and with early emphasis of the Born-Pauli rule:

Precursor discussion to the path integral-formulation of quantum mechanics:

Introducing bra-ket-notation to quantum mechanics:

Introducing the modern theory of constrained Hamiltonian mechanics:

On a relativistic membrane model for the electron:

On quantum mechanics (and some quantum field theory):

Early discussion of the positron:

  • Paul A. M. Dirac, Théorie du Positron, Proceedings of Structure et propriétés des noyaux atomiques, Solvay Conference (1933) 203-212 [full:pdf]


On syntax:

[Dirac 1939] In mathematical theories the question of notation, while not of primary importance, is yet worthy of careful consideration, since a good notation can be of great value in helping the development of a theory, by making it easy to write down those quantities or combinations of quantities that are important, and difficult or impossible to write down those that are unimportant.

On mathematical physics:

[Dirac 1978:] One should keep the need for a sound mathematical basis dominating one’s search for a new theory. Any physical or philosophical ideas that one has must be adjusted to fit the mathematics. Not the way round.

Too many physicists are inclined to start from some preconceived physical ideas and then to try to develop them and find a mathematical scheme that incorporates them. Such a line of attack is unlikely to lead to success. One runs into difficulties and finds no reasonable way out of them. One ought then to realize that one’s whole line of approach is wrong and to seek a new starting point with a sound mathematical basis.

category: people

Last revised on December 19, 2023 at 14:32:10. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.