Hamiltonian formulation of quantum mechanics with semiclassical implications. II. Variational treatment

Kenneth G. Kay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


It is shown that application of the time-dependent variational principle to trial wave functions of a particular form results in a description of the quantum system as a classical system consisting of two mutually interacting parts: the ordinary classical analog of the quantum system and a (generally finite) number of additional degrees of freedom. This holds out the prospect of simulating quantum dynamics by coupling the corresponding classical system to additional degrees of freedom, and it is pointed out that such calculations have, in effect, already been performed. Since the trial wave functions that qualify for this treatment may be arbitrarily accurate, there is no limitation to the accuracy of the resulting classical description. In a particular case, the canonical coordinates and momenta for all degrees of freedom of the overall classical system are identified and investigated. In general, certain parameters appearing in the trial wave functions treated in this work may become redundant at certain times, leading to singularities in the Hamiltonian equations of motion. It is shown, however, that in certain such cases, a classical formalism for the quantum dynamics remains valid if the Hamiltonian function is suitably modified. Calculations applying the present Hamiltonian formalism are carried out that demonstrate that it has better convergence properties than an alternative, nonvariational, Hamiltonian technique suggested by previous work. These numerical studies also suggest that the observed spreading of wave packets and development of complicated structure in wave functions may be interpreted classically in terms of energy transfer among the various degrees of freedom in the overall classical system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1213-1232
Number of pages20
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992


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