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Questions tagged [path-integral]

Path integral formulation (Due to Feynman) is a major formulation of Quantum Mechanics along with Matrix mechanics (Due to Heisenberg and Pauli), Wave Mechanics (Due to Schrodinger), and Variational Mechanics (Due to Dirac). DO NOT USE THIS TAG for line/contour integrals.

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Why path integral approach may suffer from operator ordering problem?

In Assa Auerbach's book (Ref. 1), he gave an argument saying that in the normal process of path integral, we lose information about ordering of operators by ignoring the discontinuous path. What did ...
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3 answers
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In what sense is the proper/effective action $\Gamma[\phi_c]$ a quantum-corrected classical action $S[\phi]$?

There is a difference between the classical field $\phi(x)$ (which appears in the classical action $S[\phi]$) and the quantity $\phi_c$ defined as $$\phi_c(x)\equiv\langle 0|\hat{\phi}(x)|0\rangle_J$$ ...
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Why does the classical path give the dominant contribution in the path integral?

Why is it that the classical path gives the dominant contribution in the quantum mechanical path integral? How do we understand this?
SRS's user avatar
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63 votes
7 answers
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Rigor in quantum field theory

Quantum field theory is a broad subject and has the reputation of using methods which are mathematically desiring. For example working with and subtracting infinities or the use of path integrals, ...
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19 votes
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Proof that the effective/proper action is the generating functional of one-particle-irreducible (1PI) correlation functions

In all text book and lecture notes that I have found, they write down the general statement \begin{equation} \frac{\delta^n\Gamma[\phi_{\rm cl}]}{\delta\phi_{\rm cl}(x_1)\ldots\delta\phi_{\rm cl}(x_n)}...
dixi's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
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Defining quantum effective/proper action (Legendre transformation), existence of inverse (field-source)?

Given a Quantum field theory, for a scalar field $\phi$ with generic action $S[\phi]$, we have the generating functional $$Z[J] = e^{iW[J]} = \frac{\int \mathcal{D}\phi e^{i(S[\phi]+\int d^4x J(x)\...
Thomas's user avatar
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4 answers
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Path integral formulation of quantum mechanics

I'm a mathematics student with not much background in physics. I'm interested in learning about the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics. Can anyone suggest me some books on this topic with ...
21 votes
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When does $\hbar \rightarrow 0$ provide a valid transition from quantum to classical mechanics? When and why does it fail?

Lets look at the transition amplitude $U(x_{b},x_{a})$ for a free particle between two points $x_{a}$ and $x_{b}$ in the Feynman path integral formulation $U(x_{b},x_{a}) = \int_{x_{a}}^{x_{b}} \...
stankowait's user avatar
45 votes
2 answers
14k views

Wick rotation in field theory - rigorous justification?

What is the rigorous justification of Wick rotation in QFT? I'm aware that it is very useful when calculating loop integrals and one can very easily justify it there. However, I haven't seen a ...
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67 votes
8 answers
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Why not use the Lagrangian, instead of the Hamiltonian, in nonrelativistic QM?

Undergraduate classical mechanics introduces both Lagrangians and Hamiltonians, while undergrad quantum mechanics seems to only use the Hamiltonian. But particle physics, and more generally quantum ...
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Normalizing Propagators (Path Integrals)

In the context of quantum mechanics via path integrals the normalization of the propagator as $$\left | \int d x K(x,t;x_0,t_0) \right |^2 ~=~ 1$$ is incorrect. But why? It gives the correct pre-...
Erich's user avatar
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A curious issue about Dyson-Schwinger equation (DSE): why does it work so well?

This question comes out of my other question Time ordering and time derivative in path integral formalism and operator formalism, especially from the discussion with drake. The original post is ...
Jia Yiyang's user avatar
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28 votes
2 answers
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Gaussian integral with imaginary coefficients and Wick rotation

Although this question is going to seem completely trivial to anyone with any exposure to path integrals, I'm looking to answer this precisely and haven't been able to find any materials after looking ...
Adomas Baliuka's user avatar
14 votes
2 answers
3k views

Differential equation (Greens function) satisfied by the kernel using path integrals

I'm reading Feynman and Hibbs, Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals. How do I show that the kernel $$\tag{2-25} K(x_2 ,t_2;x_1, t_1)=\int_{x=x_1}^{x=x_2}\mathcal{D}x~ e^{\frac{i}{\hbar}S[2,1]}$$ ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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How to prove useful property of logarithm of generating functional in QFT?

How to prove that $\ln(Z(J))$ generates only connected Feynman diagrams? I can't find the proof of this statement, and have only met its demonstrations for case of 2- and 4-point.
Andrew McAddams's user avatar
37 votes
7 answers
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Why is the contribution of a path in Feynmans path integral formalism $\sim e^{(i/\hbar)S[x(t)]}$?

In the book "Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals" Feynman & Hibbs state that The probability $P(b,a)$ to go from point $x_a$ at the time $t_a$ to the point $x_b$ at the time $t_b$ is ...
asmaier's user avatar
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19 votes
3 answers
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Are the path integral formalism and the operator formalism inequivalent?

Abstract The definition of the propagator $\Delta(x)$ in the path integral formalism (PI) is different from the definition in the operator formalism (OF). In general the definitions agree, but it is ...
AccidentalFourierTransform's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
1k views

Several stationary points of the action functional

In QFT the principle of stationary action states that we choose fields that will make the action stationary but what if the action has many stationary points (for a fixed choice of boundary conditions)...
Quark's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
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Time ordering and Schwinger-Dyson equation for a Klein-Gordon field

I have a question about the usage of the Schwinger-Dyson Equation for the Klein-Gordon Field. $$\begin{align} i <0|T (\delta S / \delta \phi(x) ) \phi(x_1)\ldots |0> &\cr +<0|T\delta(x-...
Markus Zetto's user avatar
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1 answer
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Where does the delta of zero $\delta(0)$ come from?

It is common when evaluating the partition function for a $O(N)$ non-linear sigma model to enforce the confinement to the $N$-sphere with a delta functional, so that $$ Z ~=~ \int d[\pi] d[\sigma] ~ \...
ZachMcDargh's user avatar
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40 votes
4 answers
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The meaning of imaginary time

What is imaginary (or complex) time? I was reading about Hawking's wave function of the universe and this topic came up. If imaginary mass and similar imaginary quantities do not make sense in physics,...
glebovg's user avatar
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21 votes
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In Path Integrals, lagrangian or hamiltonian are fundamental?

When studying path-integrals one question arose to my mind... Which presentation is more fundamental to calculate the propagator? The one based on the Hamiltonian (phase space)? $$K(B|A) = \int \...
Erich's user avatar
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14 votes
2 answers
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Derivative interaction: $\mathcal{H}_\mathrm{int}\neq - \mathcal{L}_\mathrm{int}$. Question about Feynman Rules

As we known, if there is time derivative interaction in $\mathcal L_\mathrm{int}$, then $\mathcal{H}_\mathrm{int}\neq -\mathcal{L}_\mathrm{int}$. For example, Scalar QED, $$ \begin{aligned} \mathcal{...
user avatar
8 votes
4 answers
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Proof of Connected Diagrams

If $Z[J]$ is the generating functional for the path-integral, could any prove (or more reasonably, refer me to a proof) that $$W[J]\equiv\frac{\hbar}{i}\log\left(Z[J]\right)$$ "generates" only ...
PPR's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
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How can I understand the tunneling problem by Euclidean path integral where the quadratic fluctuation has a negative eigenvalue?

I came across the S. Coleman's seminal papers 'Fate of the false vacuum' (http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevD.15.2929, http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevD.16.1762) where he describes the tunneling ...
Wein Eld's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
4k views

Equivalence Theorem of the S-Matrix

as far as I know the equivalence theorem states, that the S-matrix is invariant under reparametrization of the field, so to say if I have an action $S(\phi)$ the canonical change of variable $\phi \to ...
gaugi's user avatar
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1 answer
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What is the value of a quantum field?

As far as I'm aware (please correct me if I'm wrong) quantum fields are simply operators, constructed from a linear combination of creation and annihilation operators, which are defined at every point ...
Siraj R Khan's user avatar
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12 votes
2 answers
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Classical Limit of the Feynman Path Integral

I understand that in the limit that $\hbar$ goes to zero, the Feynman path integral is dominated by the classical path, and then using the stationary phase approximation we can derive an approximation ...
dab's user avatar
  • 921
11 votes
2 answers
3k views

Faddeev-Popov Ghosts

When quantizing Yang-Mills theory, we introduce the ghosts as a way to gauge-fix the path integral and make sure that we "count" only one contribution from each gauge-orbit of the gauge field $A_\mu\,^...
PPR's user avatar
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63 votes
4 answers
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How exact is the analogy between statistical mechanics and quantum field theory?

Famously, the path integral of quantum field theory is related to the partition function of statistical mechanics via a Wick rotation and there is therefore a formal analogy between the two. I have a ...
user26866's user avatar
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23 votes
1 answer
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What does the identity operator look like in Quantum Field Theory?

In texts on ordinary quantum mechanics the identity operators \begin{equation}\begin{aligned} I & = \int \operatorname{d}x\, |x\rangle\langle x| \\ & = \int \operatorname{d}p\, |p\...
Sean E. Lake's user avatar
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21 votes
4 answers
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Gelfand-Yaglom theorem for functional determinants

What is the 'Gelfand-Yaglom' Theorem? I have heard that it is used to calculate Functional determinants by solving an initial value problem of the form $Hy(x)-zy(x)=0$ with $y(0)=0$ and $y'(0)=1$. ...
Jose Javier Garcia's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
3k views

Normalization of the path integral

When one defines the path integral propagator, there is the need to normalize the propagator (since it would give you a probability density). There are two formulas which are used. 1) Original (v1+v2)...
Nick's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
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How to directly evaluate path integral for harmonic oscillator by brute force method?

It is easy to evaluate the green's function using path integral approach by evaluating classical action and using functional calculus method. Is it possible to evaluate path integral for harmonic ...
user135580's user avatar
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23 votes
2 answers
10k views

Time ordering and time derivative in path integral formalism and operator formalism

In operator formalism, for example a 2-point time-ordered Green's function is defined as $$\langle\mathcal{T}\phi(x_1)\phi(x_2)\rangle_{op}=\theta(x_1-x_2)\phi(x_1)\phi(x_2)+\theta(x_2-x_1)\phi(x_2)\...
Jia Yiyang's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
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Boundary conditions in holomorphic/coherent state path integral

Consider the holomorphic representation of the path integral (for a single degree of freedom): $$ U(a^{*}, a, t'', t') = \int e^{\alpha^{*}(t'') \alpha(t'')} \exp\left\{\intop_{t'}^{t''} dt \left( -a^...
Prof. Legolasov's user avatar
67 votes
6 answers
11k views

Path integral vs. measure on infinite dimensional space

Coming from a mathematical background, I'm trying to get a handle on the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics. According to Feynman, if you want to figure out the probability amplitude for ...
Nick Alger's user avatar
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42 votes
2 answers
10k views

Equivalence of canonical quantization and path integral quantization

Consider the real scalar field $\phi(x,t)$ on 1+1 dimensional space-time with some action, for instance $$ S[\phi] = \frac{1}{4\pi\nu} \int dx\,dt\, (v(\partial_x \phi)^2 - \partial_x\phi\partial_t \...
Greg Graviton's user avatar
25 votes
4 answers
7k views

Why is the functional integral of a functional derivative zero?

I'm reading Quantum Field Theory and Critical Phenomena, 4th ed., by Zinn-Justin and on page 154 I came across the statement that the functional integral of a functional derivative is zero, i.e. $$\...
user22208's user avatar
  • 453
22 votes
3 answers
4k views

Problems while Wick rotating the path integral

I am trying to begin from the path integral of QM and write the Euclidean version of it performing the Wick rotation but it seems that I am missing a few things. For simplicity I work on 1 dimension ...
Yossarian's user avatar
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21 votes
3 answers
11k views

How does light know which path is fastest?

We know from Fermat's principle of least time that light follows the fastest path. But how does light know which path is the fastest?
Self-Made Man's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
2k views

Can we do path integrals in gauge theories without fixing a gauge?

I am aware that when quantizing gauge theories with a path integral, one needs to add a gauge fixing term to avoid over-counting gauge related field configurations. From an aesthetic perspective, I ...
Yossarian's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
3k views

Why are the Nambu-Goto action and Polyakov action equivalent at quantum level?

It's a well known elementary fact that the Nambu-Goto action $$S_{NG} = T \int d \tau d \sigma \sqrt{ (\partial_{\tau} X^{\mu})^2 (\partial_{\sigma} X^{\mu})^2 - (\partial_{\sigma} X^{\mu} \partial_{\...
shuiruge's user avatar
  • 111
9 votes
4 answers
4k views

Quantum mechanics textbooks that use path integrals

I'm looking for a textbook in quantum mechanics that relies heavily on Green functions and the path integral formalism to supplement my QM books. I want to do some calculations using alternative ...
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is the constraint on the Gauge Potential in the Covariant Gauges?

One of the most common gauges in QED computations are the $R_{\xi}$ gauges obtained by adding a term \begin{equation} -\frac{(\partial_\mu A^{\mu})^2}{2\xi} \end{equation} to the Lagrangian. ...
Dan's user avatar
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19 votes
2 answers
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Semiclassical limit of Quantum Mechanics

I find myself often puzzled with the different definitions one gives to "semiclassical limits" in the context of quantum mechanics, in other words limits that eventually turn quantum mechanics into ...
Ellie's user avatar
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13 votes
4 answers
3k views

Path integral derivation of the state-operator correspondence in a CFT

Below, I paraphrase the path integral derivation of the state-operator correspondence in chapter 4 of David Tong's string theory notes (see pdf here). This is my interpretation of the text in that pdf,...
Prahar's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
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Physical meaning of partition function in QFT

When we have the generating functional $Z$ for a scalar field \begin{equation} Z(J,J^{\dagger}) = \int{D\phi^{\dagger}D\phi \; \exp\left[{\int L+\phi^{\dagger}J(x)+J^{\dagger}(x)}\phi\right]}, \end{...
Orca's user avatar
  • 1,336
11 votes
2 answers
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Ward identity derived from global symmetry and SDE, different from that derived from gauge symmetry?

In QED, according to Schwinger-Dyson equation $^{[1]}$, $$\left(\eta^{\mu\nu}(\partial ^2)-(1-\frac{1}{\xi})\partial^{\mu}\partial^{\nu}\right)\langle 0|\mathcal{T}A_{\nu}(x)...|0\rangle = e\,\langle ...
LYg's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
3k views

Once a quantum partition function is in path integral form, does it contain any operators?

Once a quantum partition function is in path integral form, does it contain any operators? I.e. The quantum partition function is $Z=tr(e^{-\beta H})$ where $H$ is an operator, the Hamiltonian of the ...
Jordan's user avatar
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