Sign up ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free.

I want to learn some QFT in curved spacetime. What papers/books/reviews can you suggest to learn this area? Are there any good books or other reference material which can help in learning about QFT in curved spacetime? There is no restriction about the material, no matter physical or mathematical.

share|cite|improve this question

Before answering, please see our policy on resource recommendation questions. Please write substantial answers that detail the style, content, and prerequisites of the book, paper or other resource. Explain the nature of the resource so that readers can decide which one is best suited for them rather than relying on the opinions of others. Answers containing only a reference to a book or paper will be removed!

The classic reference is Birrell & Davies' textbook, but the more recent one by Mukhanov and Winitizki is great too (and a draft is freely available online) – Danu May 1 '14 at 7:31
Are you going to learn for yourself or exam? – Asphir Dom May 1 '14 at 13:09

1 Answer 1

Quantum field theory (QFT) in curved spacetime is nowadays a mature set of theories quite technically advanced from the mathematical point of view.

There are several books and reviews one may profitably read depending on his/her own interests. I deal with this research area from a quite mathematical viewpoint, so my suggestions could reflect my attitude (or they are biased in favor of it).

First of all, Birrell and Davies' book is the first attempt to present a complete account of the subject. However the approach is quite old both for ideas and for the the presented mathematical technology, you could have a look at some chapters without sticking to it. The much more recent book by Mukhanov and Winitizki can be considered a physically modern version of it (at least referring to some topics). Parker and Toms' recent textbook should be put in the same level as the classic by Birrel Davis' book in scope, but more up to date.

Another interesting book is Fulling's one ("Aspects of QFT in curved spacetime"). That book is more advanced and rigorous than BD's textbook from the theoretical viewpoint, but it deals with a considerably smaller variety of topics.

The Physics Report by Kay and Wald on QFT in the presence of bifurcate Killing horizons is a further relevant step towards the modern (especially mathematical) formulation as it profitably takes advantage of the algebraic formulation and presents the first rigorous definition of Hadamard quasifree state.

An account of the interplay of Euclidean and Lorentzian QFT in curved spacetime exploiting zeta-function and heat kernel technologies, with many applications can be found in a book I wrote with other authors ("Analytic Aspects of Quantum Fields" 2003)

A more advanced approach of Lorentzian QFT in curved spacetime can be found in Wald's book on black hole thermodynamics and QFT in curved spacetime. Therein, the microlocal analysis technology is (briefly) mentioned for the first time.

As the last reference I would like to suggest the PhD thesis of T. Hack (I was one of the advisors together with K. Fredenhagen and R. Wald). Here, cosmological applications are discussed.

ADDENDUM. I forgot to mention the very nice lecture notes by my colleague Chris Fewster!

ADDENDUM2. There is now a quick introductory technical paper, by myself and I.Khavkine, on the algebraic formulation of QFT on curved spacetime: which in fact will be a chapter of a book by Springer.

share|cite|improve this answer
Great answer! Follow-up question: As a physics undergrad who has never learned much formal mathematics (pretty much bare minimum requirements) but is quite comfortable with the level of Mukhanov & Winitzki's book and very interested and eager to learn things about GR, QFT and QFT in curved spacetime from a more rigorous perspective, would you have any recommendations (I am already looking into getting your above-mentioned book) ? – Danu May 1 '14 at 13:29
Yes, I suggest Fewster's lecture notes as they stay at an intermediate level of mathematical formalism, without entering into complicated details but stating some fundamental results. – Valter Moretti May 1 '14 at 13:32
+1 for the comprehensiveness, especially the Kay-Wald paper. I would just like to add to your great list the book "quantum field theory in curved spacetime" by Leonard Parker and David Toms. For reference I would put it in the same level as the classic by Birrel & Davis in scope, but more up to date – cesaruliana May 1 '14 at 20:27
@cesaruliana Thanks. Indeed I forgot to add that book to my list. I am adding it right now. – Valter Moretti May 1 '14 at 20:33

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.