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8
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2answers
3k 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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
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
463 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 ...
11
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
1answer
393 views

Are identity types interpreted physically in an infinity-topos formulation of equations of motion?

In reference to Urs Schreibers paper/book on foundations of field theory Differential cohomology in a cohesive infinity-topos I wonder: are identity types there used "only" for the computations, or ...
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
4k 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
562 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
866 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
votes
1answer
453 views

What is Motivic mathematics and how is it used in physics?

In a few videos I've seen where he discusses the new approach to calculating the super Yang Mills scattering amplitudes, Nima Arkani-Hamed sometimes alludes to the use of Motivic methods as being ...
10
votes
0answers
414 views

Noether currents for the BRST tranformation of Yang-Mills fields

The Lagrangian of the Yang-Mills fields is given by $$ \mathcal{L}=-\frac{1}{4}(F^a_{\mu\nu})^2+\bar{\psi}(i\gamma^{\mu} D_{\mu}-m)\psi-\frac{1}{2\xi}(\partial\cdot A^a)^2+ ...
8
votes
1answer
304 views

Can You Obtain New Physics from the use of Fractional Derivatives?

I was curious if anyone could give me an example of the use of fractional derivatives in physics and explain what they offer that "conventional" mathematics does not (in terms of new physics and not ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

What really is a Dirac delta function?

Yesterday a friend asked me what a Dirac delta function really is. I tried to explain it but eventually confused myself. It seems that a Dirac delta is defined as a function that satisfies these ...
6
votes
1answer
762 views

CFTs and formalizing quantum field theory

Moshe's recent questions on formalizing quantum field theory and lattices as a definition of field theory remind me of something I occasionally idly wonder about, and maybe this site can tell me the ...
11
votes
1answer
351 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

Integral of the product of three spherical harmonics

Does anyone know how to derive the following identity for the integral of the product of three spherical harmonics?: \begin{align}\int_0^{2\pi}\int_0^\pi ...
8
votes
4answers
646 views

Using supersymmetry outside high energy/particle physics

Are there applications of supersymmetry in other branches of physics other than high energy/particle physics?
8
votes
1answer
633 views

Iterated dimensional regularization

Given a 2-loop divergent integral $\int F(q,p)\,\mathrm{d}p\mathrm{d}q$, can it be solved iteratively? I mean I integrate over $p$ keeping $q$ constant Then I integrate over $q$ In both iterated ...
6
votes
2answers
230 views

What type of non-differentiable continuous paths contribute for the path integral in quantum mechanics

Consider the path integral for a 1D particle subjected to a potential $V(x)$ in imaginary time $$ \int_{x(0)=x_0}^{x(T)=x_T} [dx] \, e^{- \int_0^T d\tau \left[\frac{1}{2}\dot{x}^2 + ...
5
votes
3answers
331 views

TQFT associates a category to a manifold

Any 3d TQFT (topological-quantum-field-theory) associates a number to a closed oriented 3-manifold, a vector space to a Riemann surface, a category to a circle, and a 2-category to a point. This ...
3
votes
2answers
222 views

Symplectic geometry in thermodynamics

There seems to be analogues between Hamiltonian dynamics and thermodynamics given the Legendre transforms between Lagrangian and Hamiltonian functions and all of Maxwell's relations. Poincarè tried to ...
13
votes
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?
11
votes
1answer
586 views

Intuitively Re-Deriving Equations of Mathematical Physics

Using the intuitive interpretation of the Laplacian $\vec{\nabla}^2$ as the difference between the average value of a field in the neighbourhood of a point & the value of the field at that point, ...
10
votes
1answer
428 views

False vacuum in axiomatic QFT

There is an elegant way to define the concept of an unstable particle in axiomatic QFT (let's use the Haag-Kastler axioms for definiteness), namely as complex poles in scattering amplitudes. Stable ...
8
votes
4answers
784 views

Does Heisenberg equation of motion imply the Schrodinger equation for evolution operator?

Let us choose to postulate (e.g. considering the analogy of the Hamiltonian being a generator of time evolution in classical mechanics) $$ i\hbar \frac{d\hat{U}}{dt}=\hat{H}\hat{U}\tag{1} $$ where ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is the Hodge dual so essential?

It seems unnatural to me that it is so often worthwhile to replace physical objects with their Hodge duals. For instance, if the magnetic field is properly thought of as a 2-form and the electric ...
7
votes
1answer
414 views

Wightman axioms and gauge symmetries

I have a basic understanding of the Wightman axioms for QFT. I was reading the about the Mass Gap problem for simple compact gauge groups and was wondering how the gauge group is supposed to be ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Interesting topics to research in mathematical physics for undergraduates

I'm planning on getting into research in mathematical physics and was wondering about interesting topics I can get into and possibly make some progress on. I'm particularity fond of abstract algebra ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Implications of unbounded operators in quantum mechanics

Quantum mechanical observables of a system are represented by self - adjoint operators in a separable complex Hilbert space $\mathcal{H}$. Now I understand a lot of operators ...
6
votes
1answer
607 views

When one discusses the “boundary” of Anti-de Sitter space, what do they mean precisely?

The AdS/CFT correspondence refers to the "boundary" of AdS space but I'm a little confused about what this means. Typically, one writes the AdS metric in the form $ds^2= \frac{L^2}{z^2}(-dt^2+d\vec ...
6
votes
2answers
450 views

Clebsch-Gordan in Fock Space?

When adding the angular momenta of two particles, you use Clebsch-Gordan coefficients, which allow you, in fancy language, to decompose the tensor product of two irreducible representations of the ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Local and Global Symmetries

Could somebody point me in the direction of a mathematically rigorous definition local symmetries and global symmetries for a given (classical) field theory? Heuristically I know that global ...
6
votes
3answers
676 views

Axiomatic statistical mechanics

Ive read a few courses on statistical mechanics, and while their textual explanations and example choices differ, the flow of information from microscopy to macroscopy seems the same, and reading ...
5
votes
2answers
165 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
391 views

Applying theorem of residues to a correlation function where the Fermi function has no poles

Let $n_F(\omega) = \large \frac{1}{e^{\beta (\omega)} + 1}$ be the Fermi function. A fermionic reservoir correlation function is given by: $$C_{12}(t) = \int_{-\infty}^{+\infty} d\omega~ ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Direct Sum of Hilbert spaces

I am a physicist who is not that well-versed in mathematical rigour (a shame, I know! But I'm working on it.) In Wald's book on QFT in Curved spacetimes, I found the following definitions of the ...
4
votes
1answer
971 views

What is a maximal analytic extension?

Can someone explain (as rigorously as possible) what is involved in analytically continuing, say, the Schwarzschild solution to the Kruskal manifold? I understand the two metrics separately but I'm ...
3
votes
3answers
411 views

How to think physically about basic “fields”

"Field" is a name for associating a value with each point in space. This value can be a scalar, vector or tensor etc. I read the wikipedia article and got that much, but then it goes it into more ...
2
votes
1answer
99 views

Intuition about Momentum Maps

I'm studying Classical Mechanics and there is one object that appeared recently on the book I'm not being able to get a physical intuition about it. The mathematical definition goes as follows: Let ...
1
vote
1answer
185 views

Calculus of variations and string theory

In Polchinski's String theory book, Vol 1., in chapter 1, p. 18, he is deriving the Lagrangian in the light cone gauge (that's not necessary to know in order to answer this question), and he gets ...
16
votes
2answers
357 views

Geometric quantization of identical particles

Background: It is well known that the quantum mechanics of $n$ identical particles living on $\mathbb{R}^3$ can be obtained from the geometric quantization of the cotangent bundle of the manifold ...
15
votes
5answers
939 views

Applications of Geometric Topology to Theoretical Physics

Geometric topology is the study of manifolds, maps between manifolds, and embeddings of manifolds in one another. Included in this sub-branch of Pure Mathematics; knot theory, homotopy, manifold ...
12
votes
2answers
260 views

Does geodesic incompleteness in Penrose-Hawking theorems imply curvature blow up?

The singularity theorems in General Realtivity roughly stated say that given: A global causal condition An energy condition The existence of a closed trapped surface then spacetime must be ...
11
votes
1answer
998 views

Quivers in String Theory

Why do a physicist, particularly a string theorist care about Quivers ? Essentially what I'm interested to know is the origin of quivers in string theory and why studying quivers is a natural thing ...
8
votes
1answer
694 views

A confusion from Weinberg's QFT text (a vanishing term in Lippmann-Schwinger equation)

I was reviewing the first few chapters of Weinberg Vol I and found a hole in my understanding in page 112, where he tried to show in the asymptotic past $t=−∞$, the in states coincide with a free ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Connection between Poisson Brackets and Symplectic Form

Jose and Saletan say the matrix elements of the Poisson Brackets (PB) in the $ {q,p} $ basis are the same as those of the inverse of the symplectic matrix $ \Omega^{-1} $, whereas the matrix elements ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Sources to learn about Greens functions

For a physics major, what are the best books/references on Greens functions for self-studying? My mathematical background is on the level of Mathematical Methods in the physical sciences by Mary ...
6
votes
2answers
546 views

Can auxiliary fields be thought of as Lagrange multipliers?

In the BRST formalism of gauge theories, the Lautrup-Nakanishi field $B^a(x)$ appears as an auxiliary variable $$\mathcal{L}_\text{BRST}=-\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu\nu}^a F^{a\,\mu\nu}+\frac{1}{2}\xi B^a B^a + ...