I'm continuing[1,2] the study of an infinite square well in the context of quantum mechanics.

Ultimate goal is to calculate the product $\Delta x\Delta k$, for various eigenstates, that is for various values of number $n$. I have finished with $\Delta x$, but I'm stuck with $\Delta k$.

(* The length of the well *)
L = 1;

(* The eigenfunctions, n=1,2,3,... *)
u[n_, x_] := If[x <= 0 || x >= L, 0, Sqrt[2/L] Sin[n π x / L]]

(* The Fourier transform of eigenfunctions u[n,x] from the position
   domain onto the momentum domain *)
φ[n_, k_] :=
        FourierTransform[u[n, x], x, k, FourierParameters -> {0, -1}],
        n ∈ Integers]

(* The probability density function η(n,k) *)
η[n_, k_] := 
    FullSimplify[φ[n, k] \[Conjugate] φ[n, k],
    {n ∈ Integers, k ∈ Reals}]

(* Calculate (Δk)^2 = <k^2> - <k>^2 = <k^2> *)
    k^2 η[n, k], {k, -∞, +∞},
    (* Edited: Was: {n ∈ Integers, n > 0}, but this edit didn't
       fix the problem. *) 
    Assumptions -> n ∈ Integers && n > 0]

The problem is that Mathematica can't calculate the last integral for any arbitrary $n$, although it can, correctly, calculate its value for hardcoded $n$s. Like $n=1,2,...$.

My question is: Do you have any idea on how I could calculate it, perhaps by rewriting it a bit, or by using some other trick? In case it helps, the result should be $n^2\pi^2$.

Note: Actually it can be calculated with Cauchy's residue theorem, but I'd like to avoid taking that route, if possible. Though, if it can't be done otherwise, I will post a solution with residual calculation so that this question has an answer.

Mathematica.SE related (to the physical problem) questions:

Is there a more mathematica-y way to label these plots?

Why does FourierTransform converge while same integral manually written does not?


3 Answers 3


This is a stupid workaround. Anyway:

FindSequenceFunction@Table[Integrate[k^2 η[n, k], {k, -∞, +∞}, Assumptions -> {n == p}], {p, 5}]
 π^2 #1^2 &
  • $\begingroup$ Actually it's kinda useful when someone -for example- wants to see whether there's a pattern and then use proof by induction. $\endgroup$
    – stathisk
    Nov 9, 2013 at 19:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Zet The problem is that it doesn't prove anything. You may get a different law for greater n, and this will overlook that fact $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2013 at 19:05

The following code yields the correct result:

enter image description here

Another interesting fact is that if I omit the assumption that k ∈ Reals, then Mathematica still gets it right, but it takes ~3x more time:

enter image description here

What is puzzling though is that if I use Assumptions with Integrate I don't get the expected result:

enter image description here

I was under the impression that Assuming[{a1,a2,...}, Integrate[...]] was equivalent to Integrate[..., Assumptions -> a1 && a2 && ...].

Could anyone please try to reproduce my results, ideally in a different OS/Mathematica version combination ? That is something other than Mathematica 9.0.1/Mac OSX 10.9 ?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ See also this answer for how Integrate works with assumptions. $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Nov 10, 2013 at 2:01
  • $\begingroup$ Great link @MichaelE2. Thanks!! $\endgroup$
    – stathisk
    Nov 10, 2013 at 12:59

Here's as close as I can get via Mathematica. First, I just simplify the integrand once for all. Having Simplify in the definition of a function could be really slow. Edit: I added the unsimplified versions of the OP's functions, including a substitution of Boole for If, which I omitted to include in the original answer.

u[n_, x_] := Boole[0 <= x <= L] Sqrt[2/L] Sin[n π x/L];
φ[n_, k_] := FourierTransform[u[n, x], x, k, FourierParameters -> {0, -1}];
η[n_, k_] := φ[n, k]\[Conjugate] φ[n, k];

integrand =
  FullSimplify[k^2 \[Eta][n, k],
               {n \[Element] Integers, n > 0, k \[Element] Reals,L > 0}]
(* -((2 k^2 L n^2 \[Pi] (-1 + (-1)^n Cos[k L]))/(k^2 L^2 - n^2 \[Pi]^2)^2) *)

Then, Integrate gets real close, if you make a substitution k -> n k. Since the differential of n k is n dk, you have to multiply the Integrate below by n.

int = n Integrate[integrand /. k -> n k, {k, -Infinity, Infinity}];
Simplify[int, {n \[Element] Integers, n > 0}]

(* ConditionalExpression[
    (L n^2 Pi^2)/Abs[L]^3, 
    L \[Element] Reals && 3 Arg[-L^2] <= 2 \[Pi] && (Re[1/L^2] <= 0 || 1/L^2 \[NotElement] Reals)] *)

(* False *)

The only problem is that the condition in the ConditionalExpression is a contradiction.

  • $\begingroup$ There's something fishy going on. Sometimes I get an error that it doesn't converge, sometimes that it is undefined (e.g., when I add L>0 in the assumptions in the last Simplify[] command), and sometimes the False conditional expression you get. The result is very sensitive to the form of the integrand and my assumptions. $\endgroup$
    – stathisk
    Nov 9, 2013 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it is sensitive. The denominator and numerator are zero at the same values of k. Somehow, perhaps because of the way Mathematica manipulates the integrand, it concludes divergence even though the integrand is bounded and the integral absolutely convergent. $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Nov 9, 2013 at 21:15

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