Abstract

The equations of motion and the class of Hamiltonians for electrodynamics, both classical and quantal, are considered for the interaction of radiation with bound charges within the electric-dipole approximation. It is emphasized that, despite the uniqueness of the equations of motion for physical variables, the form of the Hamiltonian is not unique and that a physical system is associated with an equivalence class of Hamiltonians. Two of the members of this class are the minimal-coupling and multipolar forms extensively used in quantum optics. It is shown that although different choices of Hamiltonians lead to different first-order equations of motion that connect canonical coordinates and momenta, they lead to the same second-order equations of motion for the physical variables and physical electromagnetic fields. In the quantum theory of electrodynamics the role played by the choice of representation for the operators and for the states is analyzed with care. The choice of representation leads to a freedom additional to that provided by canonical transformations in classical electrodyamics, although the two lead to the same operator equations of motion.

© 1985 Optical Society of America

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