Change of representation

Assume {|ui>} and {|ti>} are orthonormal bases and the operator U changes one basis into the other, i.e. U|ui> = |ti> for all basis vectors.  Then the operator U is a unitary operator.
Proof:
For every basis vector
<ui|U = <ti|,  UU|ui> = U|ti> = ∑j|uj><uj|U|ti> = ∑j|uj><tj|ti> = |ui>
-->  UU = I.
Similarly,
UU|ui> = U∑j|uj><uj|U|ui> = ∑jU|uj><tj|ui> = ∑j|tj><tj|ui> = |ui>
==>  UU = I.

Every unitary transformation transforms one basis into another.
Proof:
Assume that U is unitary and that {|ui>} is a basis and that U|ui> = |ti>.  Then
<ti|tj> = <ui|UU|uj> = <ui|uj> = δij.
The vectors {|ti>} are orthonormal. 
Are they a basis? 
We have to show that every |ψ> can be expanded in terms of the {|ti>}.  Let |ψ> be an arbitrary vector in a vector space E.
U|ψ> ∉ E, therefore  U|ψ> = ∑idi|ui>.
It follows that  UU|ψ> = ∑idiU|ui> = ∑idi|ti>.
or  |ψ> = ∑idi|ti>.
Therefore {|ti>} is a basis.
Changing a basis is therefore called a unitary transformation.
A unitary transformation is equivalent to a change of basis.


Let U be the unitary transformation transforming {|ui>} into {|ti>}.  The matrix elements of U in the first basis are <ui|U|uj> = <ui|tj> = Uij
|ψ> = ∑jdj|tj> = ∑j<tj|ψ>|tj>  and  |ψ> = ∑jaj|uj> = ∑j<uj|ψ>|uj>.
We find the components of a vector |ψ> in the second basis in terms of the components in the first basis using
<ti|ψ> = ∑j<ti|uj><uj|ψ> = ∑jUji*<uj|ψ> = ∑jUij<uj|ψ>.
We have
di = <ti|ψ> = ∑jUij<uj|ψ> =  ∑jUijaj.
Similarly,  ai =  ∑jUijdj.

Example:

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Example:

Let Ω be the projector onto the x axis in the {|xi>} basis.  The matrix of Ω in the {|xi>} basis is
Ωij = , and we have
.

The matrix of Ω in the {|xi’>} basis is
,
and we have
 
exactly the same as in the {|xi>} basis.

Summary
You change basis using a unitary transformation U.  The components of each vector in the new basis are related to the components in the old basis through di =  ∑jUijaj
An operator is defined by what is does to the basis vectors.
The matrix elements of any operator in the new basis are related to the matrix elements in the old basis through  Ωi'j' = (UΩU)ij.

The operator Ω does something different to the {|xi’>} basis vectors then to the {|xi>} basis vectors.  Let Ω’ be the operator that does to the new basis vectors what Ω does to the old basis vectors.

Example:

The matrix elements of Ω’ in the {|xi’>} basis are the same as the matrix elements of Ω in the {|xi>} basis.
Ω’i’j’  = Ωij.
But
Ω’i’j’  = (UΩ’U)ij  and therefore Ωij = (UΩ’U)ij  or (UΩU)ij = Ω'ij.

Summary
When we change bases with the unitary transformation U, the matrix elements of every operator Ω change. The matrix elements of Ω in the new basis are equal to the matrix elements of UΩU in the old basis.
There is an operator which has the same matrix elements in the new basis as Ω has in the old basis. This operator is Ω’ = UΩU.
Ω and Ω are different operators.
Relationship between their matrix elements:
old basis:  Ωij = (UΩ’U)ij,    Ω'ij = (UΩU)ij.
new basis: Ωi’j’ = (UΩ’U)i'j', ,  Ω’i’j’ = (UΩU)i'j'.
Active and passive transformations
In our example, rotating the coordinate system counterclockwise through an angle θ is mathematically described in exactly the same way as rotating the vector clockwise through an angle θ and leaving the coordinate system fixed.
This generalizes to :
Changing a basis from {|ui>} to {U|ui> = |ti>} is mathematically exactly the same as changing every vector |ψ> into U|ψ> = |ψ’> and keeping the basis fixed.
Let  |ψ'> = U|ψ> = ∑jajU|uj> = ∑jiaj|ui><uiU|uj> =  ∑ij(Uijaj)|ui>  = ∑idi|ui>.
Therefore di = ∑j(Uijaj)
This is the same relation between the components that we found when changing basis.

We distinguish between active and passive unitary transformations.
Active:  Change all vectors |ψ> to U|ψ>.
Passive:  Change the basis from {|ui>} to {U|ui>}.

Active:  The operator Ω still does the same thing to all basis vectors.  But if |Φ> = Ω|ψ> then |Φ> ≠ Ω|ψ’>.   We have |Φ’> = U|Φ> = UΩ|ψ> = UΩU|ψ’>.  In our example the rotated vector has a different projection onto the x axis.
Passive:  The operator  Ω changes into Ω’, which does the same thing to the new basis vectors as Ω does to the old basis vectors.  Ω’ = UΩU.  In our example the projector onto the x axis becomes the projector onto the x’ axis.

Example:

We will soon show that the operator describing the evolution of a physical system is a unitary operator.  Therefore the evolution is a unitary transformation.
There are two ways of looking at a unitary transformation.  The Schroedinger picture of quantum mechanics treats it as an active transformation.  The state vector changes with time, the operator does not change unless it contains time explicitly.  The wave function evolves in time.  The Schroedinger equation describes this evolution in a particular representation.
The Heisenberg picture of quantum mechanics treats the unitary transformation as a passive transformation.  The state vector is fixed, the operators change with time.  Both approaches yield the same predictions.