9-j symbol

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In physics, Wigner's 9-j symbols were introduced by Eugene Paul Wigner in 1937. They are related to recoupling coefficients in quantum mechanics involving four angular momenta

Jucys diagram for the Wigner 9-j symbol. The diagram describes a summation over six 3-jm symbols. Plus signs on each nodes indicate an anticlockwise reading of the lines for the 3-jm symbol, whereas minus signs indicate clockwise. Due to its symmetries, there are many ways in which the diagram can be drawn.

Recoupling of four angular momentum vectorsEdit

Coupling of two angular momenta   and   is the construction of simultaneous eigenfunctions of   and  , where  , as explained in the article on Clebsch–Gordan coefficients.

Coupling of three angular momenta can be done in several ways, as explained in the article on Racah W-coefficients. Using the notation and techniques of that article, total angular momentum states that arise from coupling the angular momentum vectors  ,  ,  , and   may be written as


Alternatively, one may first couple   and   to   and   and   to  , before coupling   and   to  :


Both sets of functions provide a complete, orthonormal basis for the space with dimension   spanned by


Hence, the transformation between the two sets is unitary and the matrix elements of the transformation are given by the scalar products of the functions. As in the case of the Racah W-coefficients the matrix elements are independent of the total angular momentum projection quantum number ( ):


Symmetry relationsEdit

A 9-j symbol is invariant under reflection about either diagonal as well as even permutations of its rows or columns:


An odd permutation of rows or columns yields a phase factor  , where


For example:


Reduction to 6j symbolsEdit

The 9-j symbols can be calculated as sums over triple-products of 6-j symbols where the summation extends over all x admitted by the triangle conditions in the factors:


Special caseEdit

When   the 9-j symbol is proportional to a 6-j symbol:


Orthogonality relationEdit

The 9-j symbols satisfy this orthogonality relation:


The triangular delta {j1  j2  j3} is equal to 1 when the triad (j1, j2, j3) satisfies the triangle conditions, and zero otherwise.

3n-j symbolsEdit

The 6-j symbol is the first representative, n = 2, of 3n-j symbols that are defined as sums of products of n of Wigner's 3-jm coefficients. The sums are over all combinations of m that the 3n-j coefficients admit, i.e., which lead to non-vanishing contributions.

If each 3-jm factor is represented by a vertex and each j by an edge, these 3n-j symbols can be mapped on certain 3-regular graphs with 3n vertices and 2n nodes. The 6-j symbol is associated with the K4 graph on 4 vertices, the 9-j symbol with the utility graph on 6 vertices (K3,3), and the two distinct (non-isomorphic) 12-j symbols with the Q3 and Wagner graphs on 8 vertices. Symmetry relations are generally representative of the automorphism group of these graphs.

See alsoEdit


  • Biedenharn, L. C.; van Dam, H. (1965). Quantum Theory of Angular Momentum: A collection of Reprints and Original Papers. New York: Academic Press. ISBN 0120960567.
  • Edmonds, A. R. (1957). Angular Momentum in Quantum Mechanics. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-07912-9.
  • Condon, Edward U.; Shortley, G. H. (1970). "Chapter 3". The Theory of Atomic Spectra. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-09209-4.
  • Maximon, Leonard C. (2010), "3j,6j,9j Symbols", in Olver, Frank W. J.; Lozier, Daniel M.; Boisvert, Ronald F.; Clark, Charles W. (eds.), NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-19225-5, MR 2723248
  • Messiah, Albert (1981). Quantum Mechanics (Volume II) (12th ed.). New York: North Holland Publishing. ISBN 0-7204-0045-7.
  • Brink, D. M.; Satchler, G. R. (1993). "Chapter 2". Angular Momentum (3rd ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-851759-9.
  • Zare, Richard N. (1988). "Chapter 2". Angular Momentum. New York: John Wiley. ISBN 0-471-85892-7.
  • Biedenharn, L. C.; Louck, J. D. (1981). Angular Momentum in Quantum Physics. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0201135078.
  • Varshalovich, D. A.; Moskalev, A. N.; Khersonskii, V. K. (1988). Quantum Theory of Angular Momentum. Singapore: World Scientific. ISBN 9971-50-107-4.
  • Jahn, H. A.; Hope, J. (1954). "Symmetry properties of the Wigner 9j symbol". Physical Review. 93 (2): 318. Bibcode:1954PhRv...93..318J. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.93.318.

External linksEdit