DO NOT USE THIS TAG just because your question involves math! If your question is on simplification of a mathematical expression, please ask it at math.stackexchange.com. Mathematical physics is the mathematically rigorous study of the foundations of physics, and the application of advanced ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms

15
votes
5answers
1k views

What happened with Hilbert's sixth problem (the axiomatization of physics) after Gödel's work?

I'll write the question but I'm not fully confident of the premises I'm making here. I'm sorry if my proposal is too silly. Hilbert's sixth problem consisted roughly about finding axioms for physics (...
2
votes
3answers
822 views

Quantum mechanics in a metric space rather than in a vector space, possible?

Quantum mechanics starts with wave functions living in Hilbert space. But later for Born's interpretation, the wave function need to be of unit energy (I mean total probability = 1, $\int_{-\infty}^{\...
7
votes
1answer
452 views

Double connectivity of $SO(3)$ group manifold

Is there any physical significance of the fact that the group manifold (parameter space) of $SO(3)$ is doubly connected? EDIT 1: Let me clarify my question. It was too vague. There exists two ...
5
votes
2answers
293 views

What is the correct relativistic distribution function?

General Statement and Questions I am trying to figure out the proper way to model a velocity/momentum distribution function that is correct in the relativistic limit. I would like to determine/know ...
5
votes
5answers
555 views

Infinite series of derivatives of position when starting from rest

Suppose you have an object with zero for the value of all the derivatives of position. In order to get the object moving you would need to increase the value of the velocity from zero to some finite ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

Intuitive meaning of Hilbert Space formalism

I am totally confused about the Hilbert Space formalism of Quantum Mechanics. Can somebody please elaborate on the following points: The observables are given by self-adjoint operators on the ...
35
votes
11answers
2k views

Examples of number theory showing up in physics [duplicate]

Are there any interesting examples of number theory showing up unexpectedly in physics? This probably sounds like rather strange question, or rather like one of the trivial to ask but often unhelpful ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Why can't General Relativity be written in terms of physical variables?

I am aware that the field in General Relativity (the metric, $g_{\mu\nu}$) is not completely physical, as two metrics which are related by a diffeomorphism (~ a change in coordinates) are physically ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

$\mathrm{SU(3)}$ decomposition of $\mathbf{3} \otimes \mathbf{\bar{3}} = \mathbf{8} \oplus \mathbf{1}$?

I have a question about the tensor decomposition of $\mathrm{SU(3)}$. According to Georgi (page 142 and 143), a tensor $T^i{}_j$ decomposes as: \begin{equation} \mathbf{3} \otimes \mathbf{\bar{3}} = \...
11
votes
7answers
2k views

Is physics rigorous in the mathematical sense?

I am a student studying Mathematics with no prior knowledge of Physics whatsoever except for very simple equations. I would like to ask, due to my experience with Mathematics: Is there a set of ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

Does the Banach-Tarski paradox contradict our understanding of nature?

Since the Banach-Tarski paradox makes a statement about domains defined in terms of real numbers, it would appear to invalidate statements about nature that we derived by applying real analysis. My ...
10
votes
5answers
687 views

Motivation for tensor product in Physics

This question is about a mathematical object (the tensor product) but thinking about the motivation that comes from Physics. Algebraists motivate the tensor product like that: "given $k$ vector spaces ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What does John Conway and Simon Kochen's “Free Will” Theorem mean?

The way it is sometimes stated is that if we have a certain amount of "free will", then, subject to certain assumptions, so must some elementary particles."(Wikipedia) That is confusing to me, ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

EM wave function & photon wavefunction

According to this review Photon wave function. Iwo Bialynicki-Birula. Progress in Optics 36 V (1996), pp. 245-294. arXiv:quant-ph/0508202, a classical EM plane wavefunction is a wavefunction (in ...
9
votes
2answers
961 views

The derivation of fractional equations

Recently I saw some physical problems that can be modeled by equations with fractional derivatives, and I had some doubts: is it possible to write an action that results in an equation with fractional ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

What is a good introduction to integrable models in physics?

I would be interested in a good mathematician-friendly introduction to integrable models in physics, either a book or expository article. Related MathOverflow question: what-is-an-integrable-system.
25
votes
5answers
6k views

A pedestrian explanation of conformal blocks

I would be very happy if someone could take a stab at conveying what conformal blocks are and how they are used in conformal field theory (CFT). I'm finally getting the glimmerings of understanding ...
28
votes
1answer
2k views

What does it mean that there is no mathematical proof for confinement?

I see this all the time* that there still doesn't exist a mathematical proof for confinement. What does this really mean and how would a sketch of a proof look like? What I mean by that second ...
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Applications of the Spectral Theorem to Quantum Mechanics

I'm currently learning some basic functional analysis. Yesterday I arrived at the spectral theorem of self-adjoint operators. I've heard that this theorem has lots of applications in Quantum Mechanics....
17
votes
5answers
2k views

What does a frame of reference mean in terms of manifolds?

Because of my mathematical background, I've been finding it hard to relate the physics-talk I've been reading, with mathematical objects. In (say special) relativity, we have a Lorentzian manifold, $...
11
votes
1answer
367 views

Conceptual difficulty in understanding Continuous Vector Space

I have an extremely ridiculous doubt that has been bothering me, since I started learning quantum mechanics. If we consider the finite dimensional vector space for the spin$\frac{1}{2}$ particles, ...
16
votes
6answers
780 views

Which QFTs were rigorously constructed?

Which QFTs have mathematically rigorous constructions a la AQFT? I understand there are many such constructions in 2D, in particular 2D CFT has been extensively studied mathematically. But even in 2D ...
11
votes
4answers
825 views

Why are the inner products of the eigenfunctions of an operator with a discrete eigenvalue spectrum guaranteed to exist?

I was reading through a textbook, and the statement was made that the inner products are guaranteed to exist if the eigenvalue spectrum of the operator is discrete. I have come across no support for ...
11
votes
9answers
1k views

Is causality a formalised concept in physics?

I have never seen a “causality operator” in physics. When people invoke the informal concept of causality aren’t they really talking about consistency (perhaps in a temporal context)? For example, if ...
7
votes
3answers
492 views

Is the harmonic oscillator potential unique in having equally spaced discrete energy levels?

I was wondering if the good old quadratic potential was the only potential with equally spaced eigenvalues. Obviously you can construct others, such as a potential that is infinite in some places and ...
6
votes
6answers
516 views

Why does time evolution operator have the form $U(t) = e^{-itH}$?

Let's denote by $|\psi(t)\rangle$ some wavefunction at time $t$. Then let's define the time evolution operator $U(t_1,t_2)$ through $$ U(t_2,t_1) |\psi(t_1)\rangle = |\psi(t_2)\rangle \tag{1}$$ and ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the meaning of following expression $C=\frac{\delta Q}{dT}$ mathematically?

Our professor raised the following question during our lecture in Statistical Physics (even so it's related to Thermodynamics): Many text books (even Wikipedia) writes wrong expressions (from ...
5
votes
2answers
452 views

Time-ordered operator in Srednicki

On page 51 Srednicki states, "Note that the operators are in time order...we can insert $T$ without changing anything". This I agree with. But then on the next paragraph he states "The time order ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

“An operator is hermitian”. Implications?

Alastair Rae states that there are 4 postulates of Quantum Mechanics in his text on the subject matter. The first part of his second postulate can be stated as: Every dynamical variable may be ...
5
votes
1answer
302 views

Bounded and Unbounded Operator

Can someone explain with a concrete example of how can I can check whether a quantum mechanical operator is bounded or unbounded? EDIT: For example., I would like to check whether $\hat p=-i\hbar\...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Does the axiom of choice appear to be “true” in the context of physics?

I have been wondering about the axiom of choice and how it relates to physics. In particular, I was wondering how many (if any) experimentally-verified physical theories require axiom of choice (or ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Rigorous proof of Bohr-Sommerfeld quantization

Bohr-Sommerfeld quantization provides an approximate recipe for recovering the spectrum of a quantum integrable system. Is there a mathematically rigorous explanation why this recipe works? In ...
6
votes
2answers
472 views

Resources for theory of distributions (generalized functions) for physicists

I am looking for tutorials, articles or books containing theory of distributions in context of mathematical physics. Please suggest.
5
votes
2answers
664 views

How do I define time-ordering for Wightman functions?

This is a follow-up question to What are Wightman fields/functions Ok, so based on my reading, the field operators of a theory are understood to be operator-valued distributions, that is, to be ...
4
votes
2answers
918 views

Normalization of the path integral

When one defines the path integral propagator, there is the need to normalize the propagator (since it would give you a probability density). There are two formulas which are used. 1) Original (v1+v2)...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Are There Strings that aren't Chew-ish?

String theory is made from Chew-ish strings, strings which follow Geoffrey Chew's S-matrix principle. These strings have the property that all their scattering is via string exchange, so that the ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Introductory texts for functionals and calculus of variation

I am going to learn some math about functionALs (like functional derivative, functional integration, functional Fourier transform) and calculus of variation. Just looking forward to any good ...
4
votes
2answers
5k views

How does the sum of the series “1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6…” to infinity = “-1/12”? [duplicate]

How does the sum of the series “1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6…” to infinity = “-1/12”, in the context of physics? I heard Lawrence Krauss say this once during a debate with Hamza Tzortzis (http://youtu.be/...
6
votes
1answer
500 views

Why Zeta regularization is not valid for multiple-loops?

Why zeta regularization only valid at one-loop? I mean there are zeta regularizations for multiple zeta sums. Also we could use the zeta regularization iteratively on each variable to obtain finite ...
54
votes
2answers
4k views

Intuitively, why are bundles so important in Physics?

I've seem the notion of bundles, fiber bundles, connections on bundles and so on being used in many different places on Physics. Now, in mathematics a bundle is introduced to generalize the ...
34
votes
6answers
903 views

Motion described by $m \frac{\mathrm{d}^2 x}{\mathrm{d}t^2}=-k\frac{\mathrm{d}^{\frac12 }x}{\mathrm{d}t^{\frac12}}$

What kind of motion would a (preferably dimensionless for simplicity) body do if the force acted on it was proportional to the semi-derivative of displacement, i.e. $$m \frac{\mathrm{d}^2 x}{\mathrm{...
19
votes
5answers
3k views

“Velvet way” to Grassmann numbers

In my opinion, the Grassmann number "apparatus" is one of the least intuitive things in modern physics. I remember that it took a lot of effort when I was studying this. The problem was not in the ...
22
votes
1answer
414 views

What, to a physicist, are instantons and the Donaldson invariants?

I study gauge theory from a mathematical perspective. To me, one of the most fundamental ideas is the notion of an instanton on a 4-manifold. To be precise, I have a Riemannian 4-manifold and a ...
40
votes
2answers
1k views

Can we infer the existence of periodic solutions to the three-body problem from numerical evidence?

I recently found out about the discovery of 13 beautiful periodic solutions to the three-body problem, described in the paper Three Classes of Newtonian Three-Body Planar Periodic Orbits. Milovan ...
21
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is there a deep mysterious relation between string theory and number theory, elliptic curves, $E_8$ and the Monster group?

Why is there a deep mysterious relation between string theory and number theory (Langlands program), elliptic curves, modular functions, the exceptional group $E_8$, and the Monster group as in ...
11
votes
1answer
350 views

Relation between cohomology and the BRST operator

Given a manifold $M$, we may define the $p$th de Rham cohomology group $H^p(M)$ as the quotient, $$C^p(M) \, / \, Z^p(M)$$ where $C^p$ and $Z^p$ are the groups of closed and exact $p$-forms ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

What is a dual / cotangent space?

Dual spaces are home to bras in quantum mechanics; cotangent spaces are home to linear maps in the tensor formalism of general relativity. After taking courses in these two subjects, I've still never ...
35
votes
2answers
797 views

Physical interpretation of different selfadjoint extensions

Given a symmetric (densely defined) operator in a Hilbert space, there might be quite a lot of selfadjoint extensions to it. This might be the case for a Schrödinger operator with a "bad" potential. ...
31
votes
9answers
3k views

Negative probabilities in quantum physics

Negative probabilities are naturally found in the Wigner function (both the original one and its discrete variants), the Klein paradox (where it is an artifact of using a one-particle theory) and the ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Use of 'complete' as in 'complete set of states' or 'complete basis'

Question. In the context of QM, I hear the phrases 'complete set of states' and 'complete basis' (among other similar expressions) thrown around rather a lot. What exactly is meant by 'complete'? ...