Description: The gauge-invariant formulation of quantum mechanics is compared to the conventional approach for the case of a one-dimensional charged harmonic oscillator in an electromagnetic field in the electric dipole approximation. The probability of finding the oscillator in the ground state or excited states as a function of time is calculated, and the two approaches give different results. On the basis of gauge invariance, the gauge-invariant formulation of quantum mechanics gives the correct probability, while the conventional approach is incorrect for this problem. Therefore, expansion coefficients or a wave function cannot always be interpreted as probability amplitudes. For a physical interpretation as probability amplitudes the expansion coefficients must be gauge invariant.
Date: August 1980
Creator: Wen, Chang-tai