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11
votes
4answers
769 views

Complex integration by shifting the contour

In section 12.11 of Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics, he evaluates an integral involved in the Green function solution to the 4-potential wave equation. Here it is: $$\int_{-\infty}^\infty dk_0 ...
17
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.
5
votes
2answers
394 views

Is there a 1-1 correspondence between symmetry and group theory?

The professor in my class of mathematical physics introduces the definition of groups and said that group theory is the mathematics of symmetry. He gave also some examples of groups such as the set ...
45
votes
5answers
4k views

Trace of a commutator is zero - but what about the commutator of $x$ and $p$?

Operators can be cyclically interchanged inside a trace: $${\rm Tr} (AB)~=~{\rm Tr} (BA).$$ This means the trace of a commutator of any two operators is zero: $${\rm Tr} ([A,B])~=~0.$$ But what about ...
17
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 ...
13
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
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 ...
12
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, ...
10
votes
5answers
594 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
715 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, ...
29
votes
11answers
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 ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Mathematical Physics Book Recommendation [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Best books for mathematical background? I want to learn contemporary mathematical physics, so that, for example, I can read Witten's latest paper without checking other ...
9
votes
2answers
935 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
412 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
8
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 ...
3
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 ...
5
votes
5answers
483 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 ...
19
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
29
votes
13answers
5k views

Suggested reading for renormalization (not only in QFT)

What papers/books/reviews can you suggest to learn what Renormalization "really" is? Standard QFT textbooks are usually computation-heavy and provide little physical insight in this regard - after my ...
14
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 ...
11
votes
1answer
341 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, ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Book covering Topology required for physics and applications

I am a physics undergrad, and interested to learn Topology so far as it has use in Physics. Currently I am trying to study Topological solitons but bogged down by some topological concepts. I am not ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

Gabriele Veneziano, strong nuclear force and beta-function

Background to the question: From The History of String Theory: Gabriele Veneziano, a research fellow at CERN (a European particle accelerator lab) in 1968, observed a strange coincidence - many ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

What math do I need for mathematical physics? In what manner should I learn math? [closed]

I'm a freshman undergraduate. I've got my sight on mathematical physics. I love math but I don't have the talent nor the inclination for purely abstract mathematics. I also love physics. The only ...
16
votes
6answers
719 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 ...
10
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 ...
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
6answers
418 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
405 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
936 views

Proof for the completeness of eigenfunctions of a self-adjoint operator

I always heard the eigenfunctions of a self-adjoint operator form a complete basis. Where can I find a proof in infinite dimension space? Presumably readable for physicists.
5
votes
1answer
251 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
734 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
477 views

Mathematical interpretation of Poisson Brackets

Lets say we are working in a classical scalar field theory and we have two functional $ F[\phi, \pi](x)$ and $G[\phi, \pi](x)$. In most of the references, starting with two functional the Poisson ...
5
votes
2answers
553 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
829 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
987 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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
230 views

Momentum is a cotangent vector?

Imagine we have a particle described by $x \in M$, where $M$ is some manifold, then it is very intuitive I think that a velocity is an element of the tangent space at $x$, so $x' \in T_{x}M.$ Thus, by ...
4
votes
2answers
299 views

Can Minkowski spacetime be redefined as a non-flat riemannian manifold?

Minkowski space time is defined in terms of a flat pseudo-Riemannian manifold. I have wondered if it can be redefined as Riamannian manifold and in the case what type of curvature would there appear. ...
6
votes
1answer
475 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 ...
52
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
33
votes
6answers
863 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 ...
18
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 ...
17
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 ...
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 ...
17
votes
1answer
325 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 ...
24
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 ...
11
votes
1answer
308 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 ...