+ h.c.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

[1]+ h.c. is an abbreviation for “plus the Hermitian conjugate”; it means is that there are additional terms which are the Hermitian conjugates of all of the preceding terms, and is a convenient shorthand to omit half the terms actually present.[2]

Context and use[edit]

The notation convention “+ h.c.” is common in particle physics in the context of writing out formulas for Lagrangians and Hamiltonians, which conventionally are both required to be Hermitian operators.[2] The mathematics of quantum mechanics is based on complex numbers, whereas almost all observations (measurements) are only real numbers. Adding its own conjugate to an operator guarantees that the combination is Hermitian, which in turn guarantees that the combined operator's eigenvalues will be real numbers, suitable for predicting values of observations / measurements.

Hence, interpret the expression

as meaning[2]

Dagger and asterisk notations[edit]

In the expressions above, is used as the symbol for the Hermitian conjugate (also called the conjugate transpose) of , defined as applying both the complex conjugate and the transpose transformations to the operator , in any order.

The dagger () is an old notation in mathematics, but is still widespread in quantum-mechanics. In mathematics (particularly linear algebra) the Hermitian conjugate of is commonly written as , but in quantum mechanics the asterisk () notation is sometimes used for the complex conjugate only, and not the combined conjugate transpose (Hermitian conjugate).


  1. ^ Huey-Wen, Özkan, Tristan Lin (2018-12-31). Quantum 3: Learning QCD through Intuitive Play. OCLC 1082145757.
  2. ^ a b c "Meaning of h.c. in Lagrangians (& elsewhere?)". Physics Forums. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2018.