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Dear Geoff,

let us denote the ground state of the harmonic oscillator with |0>, and the
excited states with |1>,|2>, .... respectively. By *a^+ = b*
we denote
the creation (raising) operator, and by *a* the annihilation
(lowering) operator. They act in the following way on the oscillator states:

b|n > = c |n+1 >, a|n > = d |n-1 >, a|0> = 0An expection value of some operator A is given by the matrix element

< m| A |n>.Therefore, for an expectation value in the ground state, we have

< 0| A |0 >and we see that whenever A contains an lowering operator

|f > = sum_{a=0}^{infiniy} c_a |a >,with coefficients c_a, AND

< m|n > = 0, for all m =/= n, < m|m > = 1, for all m.This also the reason why the expectation value in the ground state of a product of an unequal number of lowering and raising operators always vanishes. E.g. consider the following example:

< 0| a b^2 |0 > = const < 1 | 2 > = 0.

best regards,

Michael

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