Lissajous curves and semiclassical theory: The two-dimensional harmonic oscillator

R. Doll and G.-L. Ingold

Am. J. Phys. 75, 208–215 (2007) DOI: 10.1119/1.2402157

The semiclassical treatment of the two-dimensional harmonic oscillator provides an instructive example of the relation between classical motion and the quantum mechanical energy spectrum. We extend previous work on the anisotropic oscillator with incommensurate frequencies and the isotropic oscillator to the case with commensurate frequencies for which the Lissajous curves appear as classical periodic orbits. Because of the three different scenarios depending on the ratio of its frequencies, the two-dimensional harmonic oscillator offers a unique way to explicitly analyze the role of symmetries in classical and quantum mechanics.