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8answers
2k views

Crash course on algebraic geometry with view to applications in physics

Could you please recommend any good texts on algebraic geometry (just over the complex numbers rather than arbitrary fields) and on complex geometry including Kahler manifolds that could serve as an ...
14
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5answers
2k views

Haag's theorem and practical QFT computations

There exists this famous Haag's theorem which basically states that the interaction picture in QFT cannot exist. Yet, everyone uses it to calculate almost everything in QFT and it works beautifully. ...
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3answers
788 views

When is Lebesque integration useful over Riemann integration in physics?

Riemann integration is fine for physics in general because the functions dealt with tend to be differentiable and well behaved. Despite this, it's possible that Lebesque integration can be more ...
14
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1answer
735 views

Onsager's Regression Hypothesis, Explained and Demonstrated

Onsager's 1931 regression hypothesis asserts that “…the average regression of fluctuations will obey the same laws as the corresponding macroscopic irreversible process". (Here is the links to ...
14
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3answers
694 views

Does renormalization make quantum fields into (slightly) nonlinear functionals of test functions?

Quantum fields are presented as operator-valued distributions, so that the operators in the theory are linear functionals of some test function space. This works well for free fields, giving us a ...
14
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1answer
436 views

Discreteness of set of energy eigenvalues

Given some potential $V$, we have the eigenvalue problem $$ -\frac{\hbar^2}{2m}\Delta \psi + V\psi = E\psi $$ with the boundary condition $$ \lim_{|x|\rightarrow \infty} \psi(x) = 0 $$ If we ...
14
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1answer
603 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 ...
13
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5answers
214 views

Other processes than formal power series expansions in quantum field theory calculations

I am not sure if this question is too naive for this site, but here it goes. In QFT calculations, it seems that everything is rooted in formal power series expansions, i.e. , what dynamical systems ...
13
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4answers
558 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 ...
13
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2answers
670 views

Is the G2 Lie algebra useful for anything?

Seems like all the simpler Lie algebras have a use in one or another branch of theoretical physics. Even the exceptional E8 comes up in string theory. But G2? I've always wondered about that one. ...
13
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3answers
109 views

Status of local gauge invariance in axiomatic quantum field theory

In his recent review... Sergio Doplicher, The principle of locality: Effectiveness, fate, and challenges, J. Math. Phys. 51, 015218 (2010), doi ...Sergio Doplicher mentions an important open ...
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5answers
1k views

Reading list in topological QFT

I'm interested in learning about topological QFT including Chern Simons theory, Jones polynomial, Donaldson theory and Floer homology - basically the kind of things Witten worked on in the 80s. I'm ...
13
votes
4answers
782 views

Reason for the discreteness arising in quantum mechanics?

What is the most essential reason that actually leads to the quantization. I am reading the book on quantum mechanics by Griffiths. The quanta in the infinite potential well for e.g. arise due to the ...
13
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3answers
2k views

What is the relation between renormalization in physics and divergent series in mathematics?

The theory of Divergent Series was developed by Hardy and other mathematicians in the first half of the past century, giving rigorous methods of summation to get unique and consistent results from ...
13
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2answers
1k 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
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1answer
74 views

Instanton Moduli Space with a Surface Operator

I would like to understand the mathematical language which is relevant to instanton moduli space with a surface operator. Alday and Tachikawa stated in 1005.4469 that the following moduli spaces are ...
13
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1answer
504 views

How come random matrices can predict energy spectra of heavy atoms?

Some of the applications of random matrices is to find the spectra of heavy atoms in nuclear physics which are usually difficult to find otherwise. How can starting from randomness of some kind, ...
12
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3answers
2k views

Ring theory in physics

Surely group theory is a very handy tool in the problems dealing with symmetry. But is there any application for ring theory in physics? If not, what's this that makes rings not applicable in physics ...
12
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6answers
967 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
397 views

Literature on fractal properties of quasicrystals

At the seminar where the talk was about quasicrystals, I mentioned that some results on their properties remind the fractals. The person who gave the talk was not too fluent in a rigor mathematics ...
12
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2answers
268 views

Topological twists of SUSY gauge theory

Consider $N=4$ super-symmetric gauge theory in 4 dimensions with gauge group $G$. As is explained in the beginning of the paper of Kapustin and Witten on geometric Langlands, this theory has 3 ...
12
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3answers
590 views

Representing forces as one-forms

First of all, sorry if any of those things are silly or nonsense, I'm just trying to understand better how the concepts of forms, exterior derivative and so on can be used in physics. This question ...
12
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4answers
1k views

If all conserved quantities of a system are known, can they be explained by symmetries?

If a system has $N$ degrees of freedom (DOF) and therefore $N$ independent1 conserved quantities integrals of motion, can continuous symmetries with a total of $N$ parameters be found that deliver ...
12
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1answer
138 views

Are possible gauge fields in a Lagrangian theory always determined by the structure of the charged degrees of freedom?

An elementary example to explain what I mean. Consider introducing a classical point particle with a Lagrangian $L(\mathbf{q} ,\dot{\mathbf{q}}, t)$. The most general gauge transformation is $L ...
12
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2answers
381 views

The entropic cost of tying knots in polymers

Imagine I take a polymer like polyethylene, of length $L$ with some number of Kuhn lengths $N$, and I tie into into a trefoil knot. What is the difference in entropy between this knotted polymer and ...
12
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2answers
73 views

Numerical Analysis of Elliptic PDEs

I am looking for an elementary reference regarding issues of stability in numerical analysis of non-linear elliptic PDEs, particularly using the finite difference method (but something more ...
12
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2answers
95 views

How much of the Capelli-Itzykson-Zuber ADE-classification of su(2)-conformal field theories can one see perturbatively?

In their celebrated work, Capelli Itzykson and Zuber established an ADE-classification of modular invariant CFTs with chiral algebra $\mathfrak{su}(2)_k$. How much of that classification can one ...
12
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1answer
484 views

Fundamental question about the Buckingham $\pi$ theorem (dimensional analysis)

I have a rather fundamental question about the Buckingham $\pi$ theorem. They introduce it in my book about fluid mechanics as follows (I state the description of the theorem here, because I noticed ...
11
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3answers
301 views

about the Atiyah-Segal axioms on topological quantum field theory

Trying to go through the page on Topological quantum field theory - The original Atiyah-Segal axioms - "Let $\Lambda$ be a commutative ring with 1, Atiyah originally proposed the axioms of a ...
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5answers
2k 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 ...
11
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5answers
699 views

Examples where an ill-behaved function leads to surprising results?

In mathematical derivations of physical identities, it is often more or less implicitly assumed that functions are well behaved. One example are the Maxwell identities in thermodynamics which assume ...
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5answers
1k 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
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3answers
365 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 ...
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3answers
1k 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 ...
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2answers
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Proof that the One-Dimensional Simple Harmonic Oscillator is Non-Degenerate?

The standard treatment of the one-dimensional quantum simple harmonic oscillator (SHO) using the raising and lowering operators arrives at the countable basis of eigenstates $\{\vert n \rangle\}_{n = ...
11
votes
2answers
123 views

Discussions of the axioms of AQFT

The most recent discussion of what axioms one might drop from the Wightman axioms to allow the construction of realistic models that I'm aware of is Streater, Rep. Prog. Phys. 1975 38 771-846, ...
11
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3answers
485 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
293 views

Witten's constrained S-matrix and Coleman-Mandula Theorem

I remember reading somewhere that Witten argued that if the Poincaré symmetry of spacetime were nontrivially combined with internal symmetries, then the S-matrix would be so constrained that the ...
11
votes
1answer
141 views

Lie group of Schrodinger Wave equation

In Ballentine's book on quantum mechanics (in 3rd chapter), he introduces the symmetry transformation of Galilean group associated with Schrodinger equation. Now the Galilean group as such has 10 ...
11
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1answer
99 views

Metric interpretation of self-adjoint extensions?

I am wondering if beyond physical interpretation, the one dimensional contact interactions (self-adjoint extensions of the the free Hamiltonian when defined everywhere except at the origin) have a ...
11
votes
1answer
376 views

How is the Dirac adjoint generalized?

I am wondering how one can generalize the Dirac adjoint to flat "spacetimes" of arbitrary dimension and signature. To be more specific, a standard situation would be to consider 4 dimensional ...
11
votes
0answers
364 views

Hypersingular Boundary Operator in Physics

This has been a question I've been asking myself for quite some time now. Is there a physical Interpretation of the Hypersingular Boundary Operator? First, let me give some motivation why I think ...
11
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0answers
65 views

Minimal strings and topological strings

In http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0206255 Dijkgraaf and Vafa showed that the closed string partition function of the topological B-model on a Calabi-Yau of the form $uv-H(x,y)=0$ coincides with the free ...
11
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3answers
1k views

What are the mathematical problems in introducing Spin 3/2 fermions?

Can the physics complications of introducing spin 3/2 Rarita-Schwinger matter be put in geometric (or other) terms readily accessible to a mathematician?
10
votes
3answers
128 views

Physical interpretation to the category of CFTs

This question comes from reading Andre's question where I wandered whether that question even makes sense physically. In mathematics, VOAs form a category, does this category as a whole have a ...
10
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4answers
2k views

Where is the Atiyah-Singer index theorem used in physics?

I'm trying to get motivated in learning the Atiyah-Singer index theorem. In most places I read about it, e.g. wikipedia, it is mentioned that the theorem is important in theoretical physics. So my ...
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votes
7answers
1k views

What are the uses of Hopf algebras in physics?

Hopf algebra is nice object full of structure (a bialgebra with an antipode). To get some idea what it looks like, group itself is a Hopf algebra, considered over a field with one element ;) usual ...
10
votes
1answer
243 views

Chern-Simons theory

In Witten's paper on QFT and the Jones polynomial, he quantizes the Chern-Simons Lagrangian on $\Sigma\times \mathbb{R}^1$ for two case: (1) $\Sigma$ has no marked points (i.e., no Wilson loops) and ...
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8answers
686 views

Mathematical Universe Hypothesis

What is the current "consensus" on Max Tegmark's Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH) which claims every concievable mathematical structure exists, including infinite different Universes etc. I ...
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2answers
42 views

Extensions of DHR superselection theory to long range forces

For Haag-Kastler nets $M(O)$ of von-Neumann algebras $M$ indexed by open bounded subsets $O$ of the Minkowski space in AQFT (algebraic quantum field theory) the DHR (Doplicher-Haag-Roberts) ...