Hermitian adjoint
The Television & Movie Wiki: for TV, celebrities, and movies.
In mathematics, specifically in functional analysis, one associates to every linear operator on a Hilbert space its adjoint operator. Adjoints of operators generalize conjugate transposes of square matrices to (possibly) infinite-dimensional situations. If one thinks of operators on a Hilbert space as "generalized complex numbers", then the adjoint of an operator plays the role of the complex conjugate of a complex number.
The adjoint of an operator A is also sometimes called the Hermitian adjoint of A and is denoted by A^{*} or A^{†} (the latter especially when used in conjunction with the bra-ket notation).
Contents |
Definition for bounded operators
Suppose H is a Hilbert space, with inner product <.,.>. Consider a continuous linear operator A : H → H (this is the same as a bounded operator).
Using the Riesz representation theorem, one can show that there exists a unique continuous linear operator A* : H → H with the following property:
- <math> \lang Ax , y \rang = \lang x , A^* y \rang \quad \mbox{for all } x,y\in H</math>
This operator A* is the adjoint of A.
Properties
Immediate properties:
- A** = A
- (A + B )* = A* + B*
- (λA)* = λ* A*, where λ* denotes the complex conjugate of the complex number λ
- (AB)* = B* A*
If we define the operator norm of A by
- <math> \| A \| _{op} := \sup \{ \|Ax \| : \| x \| \le 1 \} </math>
then
- <math> \| A^* \| _{op} = \| A \| _{op} </math>.
Moreover,
- <math> \| A^* A \| _{op} = \| A \| _{op}^2 </math>
The set of bounded linear operators on a Hilbert space H together with the adjoint operation and the operator norm form the prototype of a C-star algebra.
Hermitian operators
A bounded operator A : H → H is called Hermitian or self-adjoint if
- A = A*
which is equivalent to
- <math> \lang Ax , y \rang = \lang x , A y \rang \mbox{ for all } x,y\in H. </math>
In some sense, these operators play the role of the real numbers (being equal to their own "complex conjugate"). They serve as the model of real-valued observables in quantum mechanics. See the article on self-adjoint operators for a full treatment.
Adjoints of unbounded operators
Many operators of importance are not continuous and are only defined on a subspace of a Hilbert space. In this situation, one may still define an adjoint, as is explained in the article on self-adjoint operators.
Other adjoints
The equation
- <math> \lang Ax , y \rang = \lang x , A^* y \rang </math>
is formally similar to the defining properties of pairs of adjoint functors in category theory, and this is where adjoint functors got their name.
See also
- Mathematical concepts
- Physical application