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What is a good place to learn the details of symmetry breaking? What I am looking for is a more serious exposition than the wiki-article, which explains the details, especially the mathematical part, but at the same time less detail than the typical quantum field theory book. Preferably I would like to see a clean made up example with all the details, but not necessarily a real example, what one can see in most books, which naturally has a lot of details that are there because that's what the world is, and not to illustrate the idea.

I hope it is clear what I am looking for.

EDIT: Just to clarify. I am looking for a reference, but if somebody is willing to write an example here, I would be more than happy.

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  • $\begingroup$ Symmetry breaking is a pretty broad topic - can you clarify what exactly you're trying to learn about? The Higgs mechanism specifically, for example? $\endgroup$ – David Z Jan 19 '11 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, as I said I am not looking for an actual example, a made up will do. In the context of quantum field theory, something along the lines: here is a Lagrangian density, the group of symmetries is..., we pick a vacuum state, it is invariant under this subgroup, then ... and so on. Preferably an exposition for a mathematician. $\endgroup$ – MBN Jan 19 '11 at 15:17
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Since symmetry breaking has much wider applications, than just in QFT. It is investigated also by mathematcal physicists. I recommend the recent book called "Symmetry breaking" by Strocchi for mathematical treatment of the subject.

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Quantum Field Theory Demystified by David McMahon chapter nine provides a good discussion on spontaneous symmetry breaking that is better than the wiki article. It has a good level of technical calculation, provided at a senior college level, but written in a friendly style. If you have decent enough understanding of a Langrangian, then the description is good. If not, no worries! The rest of the book will help.

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  • $\begingroup$ With respect to McMahon's books, please see the cooperative effort to make errata sheets here $\endgroup$ – Eduardo Guerras Valera Jan 31 '13 at 16:23

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