Short-Time Expansion of Quantum Amplitudes

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In this Demonstration we show that short-time quantum-mechanical transition amplitudes can be very accurately calculated if their expansion in the time of propagation is known to high orders. We consider imaginary-time amplitudes of the one-dimensional harmonic oscillator , anharmonic oscillator , and double-well potential . For a general quantum system described by the Hamiltonian , the probability for a transition from an initial state to a final state in time is equal to , where is the transition amplitude. In a recently developed effective action approach, the amplitude is expressed in terms of the effective potential and a set of recursive relations allows systematic analytic derivation of terms in an expansion of the effective potential in time t. The effective action thus obtained is characterized by a chosen level , corresponding to the maximal order in its expansion. If level effective action is used, errors in the calculation of the transition amplitudes are proportional to .

Contributed by: Antun Balaz (March 2011)
After work by: Antun Balaz, Ivana Vidanovic, Aleksandar Bogojevic, Aleksandar Belic, and Axel Pelster
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



The effective action approach was originally developed in a series of papers:

[1] A. Bogojevic, A. Balaz, and A. Belic, "Systematically Accelerated Convergence of Path Integrals," Phys. Rev. Lett., 94(18), 2005.

[2] A. Bogojevic, A. Balaz, and A. Belic, "Systematic Speedup of Path Integrals of a Generic N-Fold Discretized Theory," Phys. Rev. B, 72(6), 2005.

[3] A. Bogojevic, A. Balaz, and A. Belic, "Generalization of Euler's Summation Formula to Path Integrals," Phys. Lett. A, 344(2–4), 2005 pp. 84–90.

The extension of the approach to many-body systems is presented in the following papers:

[4] A. Bogojevic, I. Vidanovic, A. Balaz, and A. Belic, "Fast Convergence of Path Integrals for Many-Body Systems," Phys. Lett. A, 372(19), 2008 pp. 3341–3349.

[5] A. Balaz, A. Bogojevic, I. Vidanovic, and A. Pelster, "Recursive Schrödinger Equation Approach to Faster Converging Path Integrals," Phys. Rev. E, 79(3), 2009.

This method has been successfully applied to numerical studies of properties of various quantum systems:

[6] I. Vidanovic, A. Bogojevic, and A. Belic, "Properties of Quantum Systems via Diagonalization of Transition Amplitudes I: Discretization Effects," Phys. Rev. E, 80(6), 2009.

[7] I. Vidanovic, A. Bogojevic, A. Balaz, and A. Belic, "Properties of Quantum Systems via Diagonalization of Transition Amplitudes II: Systematic Improvements of Short-Time Propagation," Phys. Rev. E, 80(6), 2009.

Recently, this approach has been extended to systems in time-dependent potentials:

[8] A. Balaz, I. Vidanovic, A. Bogojevic, and A. Pelster, "Fast Converging Path Integrals for Time-Dependent Potentials," arXiv, 2009.

Mathematica programs developed for symbolic derivation of higher-order effective actions, as well as the C programs developed and used in numerical simulations in the above papers, can be found at

All programs were developed at the Scientific Computing Laboratory of the Institute of Physics Belgrade.

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