Concept

Quantum number

Summary
In quantum physics and chemistry, quantum numbers describe values of conserved quantities in the dynamics of a quantum system. Quantum numbers correspond to eigenvalues of operators that commute with the Hamiltonian—quantities that can be known with precision at the same time as the system's energy—and their corresponding eigenspaces. Together, a specification of all of the quantum numbers of a quantum system fully characterize a basis state of the system, and can in principle be measured together. An important aspect of quantum mechanics is the quantization of many observable quantities of interest. In particular, this leads to quantum numbers that take values in discrete sets of integers or half-integers; although they could approach infinity in some cases. This distinguishes quantum mechanics from classical mechanics where the values that characterize the system such as mass, charge, or momentum, all range continuously. Quantum numbers often describe specifically the energy lev
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