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 ...

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12
votes
2answers
271 views

When are there enough Casimirs?

I know that a Casimir for a Lie algebra $\mathfrak{g}$ is a central element of the universal enveloping algebra. For example in $\mathfrak{so}(3)$ the generators are the angular momentum operators ...
9
votes
3answers
1k 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'? ...
9
votes
1answer
686 views

The vacuum in quantum field theories: what is it?

In Section 10.1 of his textbook Quantum Field Theory for Mathematicians, Ticciati writes Assuming that the background field or classical source $j(x)$ is zero at space-time infinity, the presence ...
8
votes
1answer
893 views

Divergent Series

Why is it that divergent series make sense? Specifically, by basic calculus a sum such as $1 - 1 + 1 ...$ describes a divergent series (where divergent := non-convergent sequence of partial sums) ...
4
votes
4answers
711 views

Final theory in Physics: a mathematical existence proof?

Some time ago, I read something like this about the issue of "a final theory" in Physics: "Concerning the physical laws, we have several positions as scientists There are no fundamental physical ...
4
votes
2answers
245 views

Infinitely many planets on a line, with Newtonian gravity

(I apologize if this question is too theoretical for this site.) This is related to the answer here, although I came up with it independently of that. $\:$ Suppose we have a unit mass planet at each ...
3
votes
1answer
240 views

Susy QM and Atiyah-Singer index theorem

Consider maps $t\mapsto x^i(t)$ from circle to some Riemannian (spin) manifold and lagrangian $$ \mathcal L = \frac12 g_{ij}(x) \partial_t x^i \partial_t x^j + \frac12 g_{ij} \psi^j \left(\delta^i_k ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

When is Lebesgue 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
464 views

What kind of manifold can be the phase space of a Hamiltonian system?

Of course it should have dimension $2n$. But any more conditions? For example, can a genus-2 surface be the phase space of a Hamiltonian system?
10
votes
4answers
447 views

Electromagnetic field and continuous and differentiable vector fields

We have notions of derivative for a continuous and differentiable vector fields. The operations like curl,divergence etc. have well defined precise notions for these fields. We know electrostatic and ...
8
votes
2answers
649 views

Nonseparable Hilbert space

What kind of things can go wrong if we try to do quantum mechanics on a nonseparable Hilbert space? I have heard that usual mathematical manipulations that we take for granted will no longer hold. ...
7
votes
2answers
620 views

Vector Potential for Magnetic field when the field is not in simply-connected region

According to Poincare's Lemma, if $U\subset \mathbb{R}^n$ is a star-shaped set and if $\omega$ is a $k$-form defined in $U$ that is closed, then $\omega$ is exact, meaning that there's some ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Mathematical rigorous introduction to solid state physics

I am looking for a good mathematical rigorous introduction to solid state physics. The style and level for this solid state physics book should be comparable to Abraham Marsdens Foundations of ...
8
votes
2answers
248 views

Deriving the expectation of $[\hat X,\hat H]$

For a free particle of mass $m$, with Hamiltonian $$\hat{H} = \frac {\hat{P}^2} {2m},$$ where $$\hat{P} = -i \hbar \frac{\partial} {\partial x}.$$ The commutative relation is given by $$[\hat{X}, ...
6
votes
1answer
328 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

A question on the existence of Dirac points in graphene?

As we know, there are two distinct Dirac points for the free electrons in graphene. Which means that the energy spectrum of the 2$\times$2 Hermitian matrix $H(k_x,k_y)$ has two degenerate points $K$ ...
5
votes
3answers
311 views

Countable Matrix Representation

In my quantum mechanics class, my professor explained that the Hamiltonian along with position and momentum operators can be represented by matrices of countable dimension. This is especially usefull ...
4
votes
3answers
965 views

Comparison of 1D and 3D wave functions

When discussing the Schroedinger equation in spherical coordinates, it is standard practice in QM handbooks to point out that the radial part of the 3-dimensional wave equation bears a strong analogy ...
4
votes
5answers
675 views

If the size of universe doubled

My question is silly formulated, but I want to know if there is some sensible physical question buried in it: Suppose an exact copy of our universe is made, but where spatial distances and sizes are ...
2
votes
2answers
408 views

p-adic quantum mechanic [closed]

i got a degree on physics so my question is ?as a physicist could i learn P-adic analysis or p-adci quantum mechanics ?? is there any good book on the subject ? as an introductory level How the ...
1
vote
4answers
291 views

Why drops form spheres?

Consider a drop of water floating in an inertial frame in STP air (e.g., the ISS). Intuitively, the equilibrium shape of the drop is a sphere. How would one prove that? Is it equivalent to showing ...
0
votes
3answers
362 views

Given the Wikipedia notion of “arc length”, how is its manifestly real “signed variant” to be called and denoted?

I am dissatisfied with the presentation (not to say "definition") of "arc length", in its "Generalization to (pseudo-)Riemannian manifolds", as given in Wikipedia. (Who isn't?. But I'll sketch it here ...
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 ...
7
votes
1answer
443 views

Spin-Statistics Theorem (SST)

Please can you help me understand the Spin-Statistics Theorem (SST)? How can I prove it from a QFT point of view? How rigorous one can get? Pauli's proof is in the case of non-interacting fields, how ...
5
votes
2answers
296 views

Is it normal for physical functions to lack a 2nd derivative?

My question is about the appearance of a non-analytic function in the formula for the resistive force in air or other medium. Considering the 1-dimensional case as covered by Walter Lewin in his 8.01 ...
4
votes
3answers
317 views

Guessing what a simple partial differential equation is describing physically

Is there an easy way to look at a partial different equation and get a sense of what kind of phenomena it is physically describing? I have an equation that looks like this: ...
1
vote
2answers
154 views

Good Fiber Bundles and Differential Geometry references for Physicists

I'm a student of Physics and I have interest on the theory of Fiber Bundles because of the applications they have in Physics (gauge theory for example). What are good books to learn the theory of ...
-1
votes
1answer
133 views

interaction between mathematical structures [closed]

From a physicist's perspective there are several situations in which somehow arbitrary choices of mathematical structures can be made. One can describe a system from different perspectives, etc. ...
8
votes
3answers
825 views

Boundary layer theory in fluids learning resources

I'm trying to understand boundary layer theory in fluids. All I've found are dimensional arguments, order of magnitude arguments, etc... What I'm looking for is more mathematically sound arguments. ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Hydrogen radial wave function infinity at $r=0$

When trying to solve the Schrödinger equation for hydrogen, one usually splits up the wave function into two parts: $$\psi(r,\phi,\theta)= R(r)Y_{l,m}(\phi,\theta).$$ I understand that the radial ...
6
votes
2answers
400 views

Lagrangians combining terms with 1 and 2 derivatives

How are field theory Langrangians treated when some terms have 2 derivatives but others have only 1? Because the number of derivatives in a Lagrangian term is more easily even than odd, the ...
4
votes
1answer
152 views

What exactly is the meaning of weak formulations and what is its purpose?

What is the purpose behind weak formulation of PDEs? I have read in the book by Zienkiewicz and Taylor that a weak formulation is more "permissive" that the original problem in the sense that it ...
1
vote
2answers
159 views

Why is quantum mechancis is not content with symmetric operators, but wants self-adjoint operators?

A symmetric operator has only real eigenvalues and different eigenvectors corresponding to different eigenvalues are orthogonal. These are exactly what we want for a physical observable. I think ...
78
votes
6answers
3k views

What are the justifying foundations of statistical mechanics without appealing to the ergodic hypothesis?

This question was listed as one of the questions in the proposal (see here), and I didn't know the answer. I don't know the ethics on blatantly stealing such a question, so if it should be deleted or ...
31
votes
6answers
775 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 ...
13
votes
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 ...
14
votes
3answers
615 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
901 views

Topological insulators: why K-theory classification rather than homotopy classification?

I am reading a 2009 paper by Kitaev on K-theory classification of topological insulators. In the 4th page, 1st paragraph in the section "Classification principles", he says, Continuous ...
19
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
14
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, ...
12
votes
1answer
874 views

Self-adjoint and unbounded operators in QM

An operator $A$ is said to be self-adjoint if $(\chi,A\psi)=(A\chi,\psi)$ for $\psi, \chi \in D_A$ and $D_A=D_{A^\dagger}$. But for the free particle momentum operator $\hat{p}$ these inner products ...
22
votes
6answers
3k views

Are there two theories that are mathematically identical but ontologically different?

I have no background in physics but there is a question that has been bothering me, so I'm asking you. Are there at least 2 physical theories that are : Mathematically identical, which means that ...
13
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
387 views

Proof of Loss of Lorentz Invariance in Finite Temperature Quantum Field Theory

In the standard quantum field theory we always take the vacuum to be a invariant under Lorentz transformation. For simple cases, at least for free fields, is very simple to actually prove this. Now ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the relation between (physicists) functional derivatives and Fréchet derivatives

I´m wondering how can one get to the definition of Functional Derivative found on most Quantum Field Theory books: $$\frac{\delta F[f(x)]}{\delta f(y) } = \lim_{\epsilon \rightarrow 0} ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Differences between symmetric, Hermitian, self-adjoint, and essentially self-adjoint operators

I am a physicist. I always heard physicists used the terminology "symmetric", "Hermitian", "self-adjoint", and "essentially self-adjoint" operators interchangeably. Actually what is the difference ...
23
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are von Neumann Algebras important in quantum physics?

At the moment I am studying operator algebras from a mathematical point of view. Up to now I have read and heard of many remarks and side notes that von Neumann algebras ($W^*$ algebras) are important ...
19
votes
5answers
3k views

What do theoretical physicists need from computer scientists?

I recently co-authored a paper (not online yet unfortunately) with some chemists that essentially provided answers to the question, "What do chemists need from computer scientists?" This included the ...
15
votes
2answers
515 views

Generalized Complex Geometry and Theoretical Physics

I have been wondering about some of the different uses of Generalized Complex Geometry (GCG) in Physics. Without going into mathematical detail (see Gualtieri's thesis for reference), a Generalized ...
14
votes
2answers
816 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. ...