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34
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13answers
6k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
1k 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 deformation,...
15
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
719 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 ...
14
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 ...
14
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
938 views

Is there a “covariant derivative” for conformal transformation?

A primary field is defined by its behavior under a conformal transformation $x\rightarrow x'(x)$: $$\phi(x)\rightarrow\phi'(x')=\left|\frac{\partial x'}{\partial x}\right|^{-h}\phi(x)$$ It's fairly ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Principal value of 1/x and few questions about complex analysis in Peskin's QFT textbook

When I learn QFT, I am bothered by many problems in complex analysis. 1) $$\frac{1}{x-x_0+i\epsilon}=P\frac{1}{x-x_0}-i\pi\delta(x-x_0)$$ I can't understand why $1/x$ can have a principal value ...
12
votes
2answers
512 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
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 ...
23
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 ...
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 ...
15
votes
1answer
480 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
431 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
4k views

Plane wave expansion in cylindrical coordinates

I am trying to solve scattering problem in 2D and got to expand the wave function in cylindrical system which comes out to be Hankel function. Can you tell me how to expand the plane wave $\exp(i {\...
20
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 ...
17
votes
2answers
932 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. ...
15
votes
2answers
596 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
5k 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 Y_{l_1}^{m_1}(\theta,\phi)Y_{l_2}^{m_2}(\...
11
votes
0answers
449 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+ \bar{c}^a(\partial\...
8
votes
1answer
347 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
794 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
1k views

Why is a Hermitian operator a “quantum random variable”?

To me, as a stupid mathematician, a random variable is a measurable function from some probability space $(\Omega, \sigma, \mu)$ to $(\Bbb{R}, B(\Bbb{R}))$. This makes sense. You have outcomes, events,...
14
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
646 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
402 views

7 sphere, is there any physical interpretation of exotic spheres?

Basically an exotic sphere is topologically a sphere, but doesn't look like a one. Or more accurately: homeomorphic but not diffeomorphic to the standard Euclidean n-sphere The first exotic ...
8
votes
4answers
697 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
644 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
288 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 + V(x(\tau))\right]}...
5
votes
3answers
361 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 is ...
3
votes
2answers
267 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
444 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
1answer
443 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
867 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
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
753 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 x^...
6
votes
2answers
465 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
3answers
704 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 ...
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
1answer
317 views

Physical intuition/interpretation of fractional derivatives/integrals?

Oftentimes, when the derivative and integral operations are introduced within the realm of physics, we are taught some physical interpretation of them: Velocity is the derivative of position ...
4
votes
3answers
407 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~ \tag{5}J_R(...
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
1k 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
415 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
208 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 $$L~...
12
votes
2answers
320 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 ...