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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55
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6answers
8k 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 ...
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4answers
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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 ...
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7answers
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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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7answers
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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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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,...
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2answers
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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 \...
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Why is the contribution of a path in Feynmans path integral formalism $\sim e^{(i/\hbar)S[x(t)]}$

In Feynman's book "Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals" Feynman states that the probability $P(b,a)$ to go from point $x_a$ at time $t_a$ to the point $x_b$ at the time $t_b$ is $P(b,a) = \|K(b,a)...
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2answers
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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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3answers
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The path integral and Feynman diagrams

This question is somewhat of a historical one, but it also contains some physics. I am curious to find how exactly the concept of Feynman diagrams arose (I assume from Feynman's path integral)? The ...
22
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1answer
521 views

Instantons and Non Perturbative Amplitudes in Gravity

In perturbative QFT in flat spacetime the perturbation expansion typically does not converge, and estimates of the large order behaviour of perturbative amplitudes reveals ambiguity of the ...
22
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4answers
666 views

Is every quantum measurement reducible to measurements of position and time?

I am currently studying Path Integrals and was unable to resolve the following problem. In the famous book Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals, written by Feynman and Hibbs, it says (at the beginning ...
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1answer
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The Concepts of Path Integral in Quantitative Finance [closed]

I realize that path integral techniques can be applied to quantitative finance such as option value calculation. But I don't quite understand how this is done. Is it possible to explain this to me ...
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In what sense is the path integral an independent formulation of Quantum Mechanics/Field Theory?

We are all familiar with the version of Quantum Mechanics based on state space, operators, Schrodinger equation etc. This allows us to successfully compute relevant physical quantities such as ...
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2answers
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Why isn't the path integral rigorous?

I've recently been reading Path Integrals and Quantum Processes by Mark Swanson; it's an excellent and pedagogical introduction to the Path Integral formulation. He derives the path integral and shows ...
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1answer
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Propagators, Green’s functions, path integrals and transition amplitudes in quantum mechanics and quantum field theory

I’m trying to make a simple conceptual map regarding the things in the title, and I'm finding that I’m a little perplexed about a couple of items. Let me summarize a few things I regard as being true, ...
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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 ...
18
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2answers
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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)\...
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1answer
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The Origins of Instantons from Path Integrals

I know that you can come across non-perturbative effects in QFT, particular when the coupling constant lies outside the radius of convergence of the asympototic perturbation series. From the ...
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1answer
980 views

Faddeev-Popov Gauge-Fixing in Electromagnetism

Reading section 9.4 in Peskin, I am wondering about the following: The functional integral on $A_{\mu}$ diverges for pure-gauge configurations, because for those configurations, the action is zero. ...
18
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1answer
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Subtlety of analytic continuation - Euclidean / Minkowski path integral

I subconsciously feel not fully comfortable about Wick rotating or analytic continuation from Euclidean to Minkowski space. I simply wonder whether there is any subtlety here, and when we need to be ...
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1answer
569 views

Quantum symmetries that are not classical symmetries

An anomaly is a symmetry of the classical action that fails to be a symmetry of the path integral, due to non-invariance of the path integral measure. Does it ever occur that the opposite thing ...
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3answers
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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. $$\...
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When does $\hbar \rightarrow 0$ provide a valid transition from quantum to classcial 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}} \...
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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 $y'(0)=1$. ...
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3answers
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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?
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1answer
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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 \...
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584 views

Why does spin appear in quantum systems but not classical systems?

It is often claimed that spin is a purely quantum property with no classical analogue. However (as was very recently pointed out to me), there is a classical analogue to spin whose action is given (in ...
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2answers
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Applications of the Feynman-Vernon Influence Functional

I am looking for a reference where the Feynman-Vernon influence functional was defined and used in the context of relativistic quantum field theory. This functional is one method to describe non-...
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
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Green's function in path integral approach (QFT)

After having studied canonical quantization and feeling (relatively) comfortable with it, I have now been studying the path integral approach. But I don't feel entirely comfortable with. I have the ...
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1answer
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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\...
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
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Can nowadays spin be described using path integrals?

In Feynmans book, "Quantum mechanics and Path Integrals" he writes in the conclusions (chapter 12-10) With regards to quantum mechanics, path integrals suffer most grievously from a serious defect. ...
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Quantum symmetries: $S$ or $Z$?

Let $I$ be the action of some QFT (gauge-fixed and including all the necessary counter-terms); $S$ the associated scattering-matrix; and $Z$ the partition function (in the form of, say, a path ...
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Calculating correlation functions of exponentials of fields

In their book Condensed Matter Field Theory, Altland and Simons often use the following formula for calculating thermal expectation values of exponentials of a real field $\theta$: $$ \langle e^{i(\...
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1answer
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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-...
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2answers
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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 ...
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3answers
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Chemical reaction as state transition?

When considering diffusion of chemicals, the reaction part is business of chemical kinetics, where the relevant characteristics of different substances come from collision theory together with some ...
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1answer
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Can path integrals be used to understand entanglement?

I like path integrals. I prefer to try to understand quantum phenomena in terms of path integrals rather than Hamiltonian mechanics. However, most of the standard texts on quantum mechanics start from ...
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2answers
754 views

Are there rigorous constructions of the path integral for lattice QFT on an infinite lattice?

Lattice QFT on a finite lattice* is a completely well defined mathematical object. This is because the path integral is an ordinary finite-dimensional integral. However, if the lattice is infinite, ...
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1answer
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Why can't quantum field theory be quaternion instead of complex?

So, the definition of QFT in terms of path integrals is that the partition function is: $$Z[J] \propto \int e^{iS[\phi]+J.\phi} D[\phi]$$ But does it have any meaning if instead of this $U(1)$ ...
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Why isn't the path integral defined for non-homotopic paths?

Context In the Aharonov Bohm effect, there is a solenoid which creates a magnetic field. Since the electron cannot be inside the solenoid, the configuration space is not simply connected. Question ...
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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)\...
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
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What are the minimal postulates to do quantum mechanics in path-integral formulation without knowing the operator formulation?

I ask this question because many of the books I'm familiar with assumes a familiarity with the operator formulation and then develops the path-integral formulation partly based on a mixture of ...
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How to deal with boundary conditions for path integrals?

For non-relativistic quantum mechanics, the boundary conditions are rather simple to deal with, they are just \begin{equation} \langle x_1, t_1 \vert x_2, t_2\rangle = \int_{x_1(t_1)}^{x_2(t_2)} \...
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2answers
933 views

Calculating $\mathrm{Tr}[\log \Delta_F]$

I am stuck with this problem for quite sometime. I have a propagator in the momentum representation (from this Phys.SE question), which looks like $$ \widetilde\Delta_F(p) = \frac{1}{(p^0)^2-\left(\...
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4answers
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On-shell symmetry from a path integral point of view

Normally supersymmetric quantum field theories have Lagrangians which are supersymmetric only on-shell, i.e. with the field equations imposed. In many cases this can be solved by introducing auxilary ...
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2answers
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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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Why is it hard to extend the Feynman Checkerboard to more than 1+1 dimensions?

The Feynman Checkerboard Wikipedia article states: "There has been no consensus on an optimal extension of the Chessboard model to a fully four-dimensional space-time." Why is it hard to extend ...

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