Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is a good place to learn the details of symmetry breaking? What I am looking for is a more serious exposition than the wiki-article, which explains the details, especially the mathematical part, but at the same time less detail than the typical quantum field theory book. Preferably I would like to see a clean made up example with all the details, but not necessarily a real example, what one can see in most books, which naturally has a lot of details that are there because that's what the world is, and not to illustrate the idea.

I hope it is clear what I am looking for.

EDIT: Just to clarify. I am looking for a reference, but if somebody is willing to write an example here, I would be more than happy.

share|cite|improve this question
Symmetry breaking is a pretty broad topic - can you clarify what exactly you're trying to learn about? The Higgs mechanism specifically, for example? – David Z Jan 19 '11 at 6:57
Ok, as I said I am not looking for an actual example, a made up will do. In the context of quantum field theory, something along the lines: here is a Lagrangian density, the group of symmetries is..., we pick a vacuum state, it is invariant under this subgroup, then ... and so on. Preferably an exposition for a mathematician. – MBN Jan 19 '11 at 15:17
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Since symmetry breaking has much wider applications, than just in QFT. It is investigated also by mathematcal physicists. I recommend the recent book called "Symmetry breaking" by Strocchi for mathematical treatment of the subject.

share|cite|improve this answer

Quantum Field Theory Demystified by David McMahon chapter nine provides a good discussion on spontaneous symmetry breaking that is better than the wiki article. It has a good level of technical calculation, provided at a senior college level, but written in a friendly style. If you have decent enough understanding of a Langrangian, then the description is good. If not, no worries! The rest of the book will help.

share|cite|improve this answer
With respect to McMahon's books, please see the cooperative effort to make errata sheets here – Eduardo Guerras Valera Jan 31 '13 at 16:23

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.