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Learning QED

  1. Feb 6, 2005 #1
    Hiya.

    I'm going to be taking a Quantum Electrodynamics course next semester. I was wondering if anyone could recommend :
    a) Good sites on the subject
    b) Good books on the subject

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2005 #2

    vanesch

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    The books I liked most are:
    - Zee: QFT in a Nutshell (for the overview and hindsight)
    - Peskin and Schroeder: Introduction to QFT (for the machinery and the calculations)

    Apparently the "masterwork" 3 volume set by Weinberg is great, I only browsed through it, and by the time you're ready for it, you'll have a more informed opinion anyway.

    A long time ago, I followed a course on QFT, based upon P&S and I posted some material here:

    http://perso.wanadoo.fr/patrick.vanesch/qftcoursemain.html

    Some information is outdated probably.

    cheers,
    Patrick.
     
  4. Feb 6, 2005 #3

    dextercioby

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    Unfortunately the internet is rather poor when it comes to references (i.e.courses/books) on QED.I remember about the course of Roberto Casalbuoni from Firenze,but i can't recall the webadress.
    Give me your e-mail and i'll ship it to you... :smile: It's a medium-sized .pdf file...

    As for books,there are so many... :rolleyes: Bjorken,Drell (both of them,though one has the title "Relativistic Quantum Mechanics"),Landau & Lifschtiz,Jauch & Rohrlich,Ahiezer & Berestetzkyy,Greiner,etc.These all monographies...Chapters on QED are found in all QFT books,starting with the first volume of Weinberg,then Iztykson-Zuber,L.H.Ryder,etc...

    Nice treatment on renormalization is found in P.Ramond as well.

    Daniel.

    EDIT:My memory... :grumpy: P & S and Zee are included in the .etc dept... :tongue2: Thought they really do not deserve...
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2005
  5. Feb 6, 2005 #4

    vanesch

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    This is probably related to personal taste and, if not careful, leads to religious wars such as between mac and pc.

    But after having read Bjorken and Drell, Ryder, Ramond etc... and not getting any clear mental picture out of it, I have to say that P&S sounded like crystal compared to it.
     
  6. Feb 6, 2005 #5

    dextercioby

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    The one which sets things really straight from the top and carries the line to the botton (though not really treating QED) is Bailin & Love :"Introdution to Gauge Field Theory",2nd edition,Bristol,1993.

    It's an admirable book... :approve:

    As for personal tastes,are theoretical physicists robots...??

    Daniel.
     
  7. Feb 7, 2005 #6

    vanesch

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    I don't know this one (well, I might have heard the name a few times). If I can get my hands on one, I'll give it a look (maybe my institute has it in the library).
    However, what scares me is "not really treating QED" :confused:
    I remember really getting a kick out of calculating the Thompson cross section first classically (total cross section of low energy EM beam scattered by an electron), and then in QED through compton scattering, and finding numerically the same result. I got a similar kick out of it when first calculating the 2pi/alpha correction to the magnetic moment of the electron. This is the kind of thing I like to learn from a book (not the calculation itself, but the idea that somehow, I could have done it myself in the same way), and that's where P&S did a great job.
    But other people might like other aspects of learning about some theory, and hence have different tastes.

    cheers,
    Patrick.
     
  8. Feb 7, 2005 #7

    dextercioby

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    It's built after the same tipique as Ramond,which means the only operators are dealt with when introducing the Feynman path integral in the first chapter.

    Daniel.

    P.S.Yes,i agree.P & S is a good calculatory book and much more digestable than Itzykson & Zuber or Weinberg.
     
  9. Feb 7, 2005 #8

    Dr Transport

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    Mandel and Shaw is good, Aitcheson and Hey also. Bjorken and Drell has been mentioned. I got out of graduate school before Peskin and Schroeder so I can't give an opinion. Sakurai wrote wrote a very good text.
     
  10. Feb 7, 2005 #9

    selfAdjoint

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    What I don't think anybody has mentioned yet is that for someone teaching themselves, having more than one book is a real help. Here is where Ryder comes in. It doesn't have excercises, so you really shouldn't use it as a primary, and it's a little out of date on the standard model, and maybe it spends too much time on phi-4, but it does what it does with clarity. It's like having an experienced grad student to explain to you what the professor just said. Patrick didn't like it, but that is probably because it didn't lead him right into productive calculations. P&S does that, but it sacrifices some things (leasurely exposition and real rigor for two) to that goal.
     
  11. Feb 7, 2005 #10

    dextercioby

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    Yes,sA,but let's not forget 2 tiny details:the OP is not intending to teach himself QED (it's not reccomendable,especially nonadvised) and he didn't ask for specific advice.He asked for a general overview on the subject,viz.books on QED.

    Daniel.
     
  12. Feb 8, 2005 #11

    vanesch

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    Oh, well, Ryder is ok, and as you point out, many books have their good and bad points. Ryder has also its good points, especially a much better treatment of the implications of the Poincare group for the possible representations. But if you teach yourself something, you need as a start, one single book that will break the ice. Jumping around several leads you too much astray in the beginning, and I thought that in "breaking the ice" P&S really did a great job. Ok, it is maybe not rigorous and the mostly heard comment is that "it focusses too much on the technicalities of calculation".

    My experience (which is of course personal) is that in order to learn a subject, you should first learn to handle the machinery in order to produce some results, before delving in too much abstract rigor and justification. But _some_ justification is of course needed to make the story hang together, so there's a tradeoff to be made between rigorous demonstration, and just calculation recipes, and that's where I think P&S did a great job which helped me personally a lot.
    When trying to understand the Dirac equation, I don't care at that moment if the Dirac equation has to be what it is based upon the Poincare group. I would like to see a link to make it sound acceptable, but I don't need a rigorous proof (however I hate a handwaving argument that is presented as if it were a rigorous proof). And then I'd like to see how this fits into field quantization. And then I'd like to see how I'm supposed to turn the handles of this thing to get out some real numbers. Once I feel comfortable with it, I like to go back on my footsteps, and think about the more abstract structure, and why things are that way and not in another way. But only after I feel comfortable with its handles. At that point, I guess you should put P&S aside and look elsewhere (my guess is Weinberg) ; it can also be that certain obscure points in P&S have a more enlightening exposition somewhere else.
    So as a second go, you should look at a lot of books and try to learn from all the different viewpoints. But you know you won't get lost this time around, being already somewhat comfortable with the material.

    cheers,
    Patrick.
     
  13. Feb 8, 2005 #12

    selfAdjoint

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    See Patrick, you have a better background in this than I did. You talk about doing the classical calculation and then the QED one to see that they matched. I minored in physics as an undergraduate but that was in 1951-1955 and it wasn't a first rate program. The calculations in EM were mostly practical, and I have never really specced up on that since. Should have, but there's only so much time in a life. That means that I now have trouble doing the excercises in advanced books because I am not cool with all the tricks ("we took the Fourier transform and applied Gauss' law assuming the surface terms vanish"). I can understand what that means but doing it doesn't come natural. So the ice breaking of P&S did not break the ice for me. I am still playing catch up ball on this. Ryder helps, and so do all the other books I have, including P&S.
     
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