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Featured Insights Introduction to Perturbative Quantum Field Theory - Comments

  1. Sep 12, 2017 #1

    Urs Schreiber

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  3. Sep 12, 2017 #2
    As someone who has only learned QFT via the path integral approach so far (and mostly with applications in condensed matter theory in mind), all this is crazily interesting, and i look forward to the rest of this series!
     
  4. Sep 12, 2017 #3

    vanhees71

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    That's a great article, I've to study in closer detail later. I only wonder, why you only quoate QED, QCD, and quantum gravity but not the full Standard Model, including weak interactions, i.e., quantum flavor dynamics (aka Glashow-Salam-Weinberg model of the electroweak interaction) ##\otimes## QCD.
     
  5. Sep 12, 2017 #4

    dextercioby

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    Great work (to come), Urs!
    Well, once you're done writing it (all articles), I will go print it and store it in my physical library.
     
  6. Sep 12, 2017 #5

    Urs Schreiber

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    True, I should mention electroweak theory, too, have edited the entry a little to reflect this. (It will take a bit until I get to these applications, I will first consider laying some groundwork.)
     
  7. Sep 12, 2017 #6
    Great job Urs, looking forward to the next one!
     
  8. Sep 13, 2017 #7

    Haelfix

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    Nice article. How much of causal perturbation theory has been shown to match SM physics/ordinary qft? When I looked at this (admittedly many years ago), people had successfully constructed the scalar field and there was work being done on spin 1/2, and some sketchy and complicated proof of concepts, but has it really been shown to be completely isomorphic? One step further, do all the successes of causal perturbation theory match on to the new covariant algebraic qft?

    My impressions at the time was that this was a little bit like the theory of distributions vs Dirac's delta function formalism. The former is rigorous and nice, but just clutters up notation when you sit down to calculate things.
     
  9. Sep 13, 2017 #8

    Urs Schreiber

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    It's true that the literature on this topic is still comparatively small, but everything comes out:

    Scharf's two books cover much standard basic material of QED, EW, QCD and pQG.

    Feynman diagrammatics and dimensional regularization was realized in in Keller 10, Dütsch-Fredenhagen-Keller-Rejzner 14. (These authors speak in terms of scalar fields, but, as with Epstein-Glaser's original article, this is a notational convenience, the generalization is immediate.)

    BV-BRST methods were realized in Fredenhagen-Rejzner 11b.

    Yes, that starts with Brunetti-Fredenhagen 00, Hollands-Wald 01 and culminates in the construction of renormalized Yang-Mills on curved spacetimes in Hollands 07.

    Sure, once the dust of the theory has settled we want to compute leisurely, but we do want to understand what it is our computations are doing. Distribution theory is a good example for how it pays to spend a moment on sorting out the theoretical underpinning before doing computation. Causal perturbation theory shows that all that used to be mysterious about divergencies in pQFT is clarified by microlocal analysis of distributions: Properly treating the product of distributions with attention to their wave front set is what defines the normal-order product of free fields, and then properly treating the extension of distributions to coinciding interaction points is what defines the renormalized time-ordered products. That gives a solid background explaining what's actually going on in the theory. Not every kind of computation will be affected by this, but given that there remain open theoretical questions in pQFT, it will help to have the foundations sorted out.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017 at 12:48 AM
  10. Sep 16, 2017 at 10:30 AM #9

    A. Neumaier

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    Note that there is already an insight article on causal perturbation theory complementing the present one.

    Your point 2 for causal perturabtion theory (finitely many free constants) holds of course only for renormalizable theories. Scharf also constructs (low order) perturbative gravity in the causal framework, but there the number of free constants proliferates with the order. (Mathematically, this is not a problem since the same happens for multivariate power series, but physicists used to think of this as non-renormalizability.)
     
  11. Sep 16, 2017 at 10:38 AM #10

    A. Neumaier

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    You stated in the article, ''perturbative AQFT in addition elegantly deals with the would-be “IR-divergencies” in pQFT by organizing the system of spacetime localized quantum observables into a local net of observables.''

    I don't agree. The infrared problem remains unsolved in perturbative AQFT. You haven't even given a link to a reference where your claim would be addressed.
     
  12. Sep 16, 2017 at 10:40 AM #11

    A. Neumaier

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  13. Sep 16, 2017 at 8:16 PM #12

    bhobba

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    As I said elsewhere, stunning, simply stunning and I have never said that about an insights article before.

    I look forward to the whole series.

    Note to those that like me do not understand all the mathematical detail. Of course try to correct that, but still read it and try to get a feel for the issues at the frontiers of current physics.

    Feel free if interested to start a thread on, what for example, an instanton sea is, don't know that one myself - much food for thought here.

    Thanks
    Bill
     
  14. Sep 17, 2017 at 12:00 AM #13

    atyy

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    How are pQFT and pAQFT related to lattice gauge theory? Would you accept lattice gauge theory, at least Hamiltonian lattice gauge theory, as a non-perturbative and physically relevant version of QED?

    Also, why do you say the path integral doesn't exist? At least in 2D and 3D, doesn't constructive field theory, which you mention at the end, show that the path integral exists?
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017 at 7:41 AM
  15. Sep 19, 2017 at 5:04 AM #14

    Urs Schreiber

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    Sorry for the slow replies, I am seeing the further comments only now for some reason.

    Right, sorry, I should have pointed to that. I do have pointers to your FAQ on the nLab here .

    I was careful to write "at each order there is a finite-dimensional space of choices" (emphasis added).

    As you hint at, this is an important subtlety that is usually glossed over in public discussion: At each order of perturbation theory, there is a finite dimensional space of counter-terms to be fixed. As the order increases, the total number of counterterms may grow without bound, and then people say the theory is "non-renormalizable". But this is misleading terminology: The theory is still renormalizable in the sense that one may choose all counterterms consistently, even f there are infinitely many. What the traditional use of "non-renormalizable" really means to convey is some idea of predictivity: The usual argument is that if there is an infinite number of terms to be chosen, then the theory is not predictive. Of course a moment of reflection shows that it is not quite that black-and-white. The true answer is popular under the term "effective field theory": If we specify the counterterms up to a fixed oder (and there are only finitely many of these for any order) then the remaining observables of the theory are its predictions up to that order . As more fine-grained experimental input comes in, we can possibly determine counterterms to the next order by experiment, and then again the remaining observables of the theory are its predictions up to that next higher order. And so ever on.
     
  16. Sep 19, 2017 at 5:15 AM #15

    Urs Schreiber

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    I believe I did provide a pointer, to the section here , but I could have emphasized this further. This will be the topic of the next (or next to next) installment.

    What you are referring to, and what remains unsolved in generality, is taking the adiabatic limit of the coupling constant. But the insight of pAQFT is that this limit need not even be taken in order to obtain a well defined (perturbative) quantum field theory!

    Namely the observation is that
    1. the algebra of quantum observables localized in any spacetime region may be computed, up to canonical isomorphism, already with any adiabatic switching function that is constant on a neighbourhood of that region of support
    2. as the region of support varies arbitrarily, the system of algebras of localized quantum observables obtained this way do form a causally local net in the sense of the Haag-Kastler axioms (this prop, the only difference to the original axioms being that here they are formal power series algebras instead of C-star algebra, reflecting the perturbation theory)
    3. AQFT lore implies that this causally local net of observables is sufficient to fully define the quantum field theory.
    4. ibut f desired, we may still take the limit now, not of the S-matrix, but of the local net of observables it induces, in the sense of limits over the functor assigning observable algebras. In the pAQFT literature they call this the "algebraic adiabatic limit" or similar. It may be used to construct operator representations of the quantum observables, but the main point of pAQFT is really that by and large it is not actually necessary to consider this.
     
  17. Sep 19, 2017 at 5:22 AM #16

    Urs Schreiber

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    Ah, I didn't code this with the "beamer" package, but "by hand". Is there a tool that could extract from the pdf just those pages that have the screen completed, and put these together to a smaller file? Sorry for the trouble

    Thanks for the alert! I have fixed it now. The working link is here:
    I recommend also Alexander's more recent exposition:
    • Alexander Schenkel, "Towards homotopical AQFT" (web , pdf)[/QUOTE]
     
  18. Sep 19, 2017 at 5:33 AM #17

    Urs Schreiber

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    Sure, I was briefly referring to this in the paragraph starting with "Hence we will eventually need to understand non-perturbative quantum field theory."

    I suppose the point is that Monte-Carlo evaluation of lattice gauge theory is more like computer--simulated experiment than like theory. It allows us to "see" various effects, such as confinement, but it still does not "explain" them in the sense that we could derive these effects structurally.

    Another problem is that lattice gauge theory relies on Wick rotation, so it does not help with pQFT on general curved spacetimes.

    Yes, that's what I meant by "toy examples" where I wrote "There is no known way to make sense of this integral, apart from toy examples"

    Now of course it may be unfair to refer as a "toy example" to all the great effort that went into "constructive QFT". Mathematically it is a highly sophisticated achievement. But it remains a matter of fact that as far as the physical problem description is concerned, the real thing is interacting Lorentzian QFT in dimensions four or larger.

    I should be careful with saying "the path integral does not exist in general", because there is no proof besides experience, that it does not. Maybe at one point people can make sense of it. But even so, it seems to me that the results of "constructive QFT" show one thing: even if one can finally make sense of the path integral, it does not seem all too useful. Very little followup results seem to have come out of the construction of interacting scalar field theory in 3d via a rigorous Euclidean path integral. If we follow the tao of mathematics, the path integral just does not seem to be the right perspective. Or so I think.
     
  19. Sep 19, 2017 at 5:36 AM #18

    Urs Schreiber

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    That's the right attitude! Learning by osmosis.

    And by asking questions! Feel invited to ask the most basic questions that come to mind.
     
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