## Extract

The new quantum mechanics consists of a scheme of equations which are very closely analogous to the equations of classical mechanics, with the fundamental difference that the dynamical variables do not obey the commutative law of multiplication, but satisfy instead the well-known quantum conditions. It follows that one cannot suppose the dynamical variables to be ordinary numbers (c-numbers), but may call them numbers of a special type (q-numbers). The theory shows that these q-numbers can in general be represented by matrices whose elements are c-numbers (functions of a time parameter). When one has performed the calculations with the q-numbers and obtained all the matrices one wants, the question arises how one is to get physical results from the theory, *i. e.,* how can one obtain c-numbers from the theory that one can compare with experimental values ? Hitherto this has been done with the help of a number of special assumptions. In Heisenberg’s original matrix mechanics it was assumed that the elements of the diagonal matrix that represents the energy are the energy levels of the system, and the elements of the matrix that represents the total polarisation, which are periodic functions of the time, determine the frequencies and intensities of the spectral lines in analogy to the classical theory. Schrodinger’s wave representation of the quantum mechanics has provided new ways of obtaining physical results from the theory, based on the assumption that the square of the amplitude of the wave function can in certain cases be interpreted as a probability. From this assumption one can, for instance, work out the probability of a transition being produced in a system (or the number of transitions produced in an assembly of like systems) by an arbitrary external perturbing force, and can thus, by supposing the perturbation to consist of incident radiation, obtain directly Einstein’s B coefficients. Again in Born’s treatment of collision problems it is assumed that the square of the amplitude of the wave function scattered in any direction determines the probability of the colliding electron (or other body) being scattered in that direction.

## Footnotes

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- Received December 2, 1926.

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