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Pedagogical QFT texts

  1. Dec 28, 2013 #1

    WannabeNewton

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    Hey guys. So I've spent some time with the following book: https://www.amazon.com/Student-Friendly-Quantum-Field-Theory/dp/0984513922 (basically halfway through chapter 4 which is on spin 1/2 fields) and as far as pedagogy goes, this book is a godsend. I don't think I've seen a more lucid upper-division physics book in my life.

    However, as with many other subjects in physics, sticking to a single textbook when learning a subject is usually not a good idea especially when it comes to QFT.

    So I was wondering what people thought about Mandl and Shaw's QFT text (the 2nd edition): https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Field-Theory-Franz-Mandl/dp/0471496847

    How pedagogical is it? What are your opinions on it? Do you think it's good for self-study?

    Thanks in advance!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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  3. Dec 28, 2013 #2

    MathematicalPhysicist

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    Well, to truly learn this stuff you should be enrolled to a year long course.

    The course that I am taking uses a myriad of books, cause not every book covers the same topics.

    For example I looked for derivation of Proca-Feynman propagator in the standard books such as Peskin's and Sredinicki, and eventually found a reference of this derivation in Mandl and Shaw's.
     
  4. Dec 28, 2013 #3

    WannabeNewton

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    Well I can't take the graduate sequence in QFT until my 3rd year because QFT I is only offered in the fall and I couldn't take it this fall because I was already piled up with classes, hence why I'm trying to study it ahead of time.

    I realize that a single book won't cover everything, as I noted explicitly in my original post.

    Anyways, my three questions still remain intact with regards to Mandl and Shaw's text: how pedagogical is it, what are your opinions on it, and do you think it's good for self-study?

    The book by Klauber has been brilliant thus far with regards to pedagogy but I don't want to stick to it alone for exposition for the aforementioned reasons. I've been using Srednicki on the side for extra problem sets because I really like the problem sets in Srednicki but I can't say I've loved the book as far as pedagogy goes.

    Thanks.
     
  5. Dec 28, 2013 #4
    You will definitely need to use several books. Different texts will cover different things.
     
  6. Dec 28, 2013 #5

    Student100

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  7. Dec 28, 2013 #6

    atyy

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    I liked Mandl and Shaw very much. It was very friendly. But the level of understanding I was aiming for is probably far lower than yours (I'm a biologist, not a physicist). (I think I read the 1984 version.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2013
  8. Dec 29, 2013 #7

    vanhees71

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    While Mandl and Shaw is a classic that treats the subject very well, Zee's book "QFT in a nutshell" is just the proof that a nutshell is too small to contain the subject ;-)). It's the worst textbook on QFT I've seen so far. It wants to cover too much in a too short very superficial way!

    I never understood, why it has such a good reputation, including the customer reviews at Amazon.
     
  9. Dec 29, 2013 #8

    DrDu

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    What I enjoyed very much in Zee´s book is the fact that it is a book on quantum field theory and not only on relativistic quantum field theory. The problem with concise books on relativistic quantum field theory is that there is no realistic relativistic quantum field theory, at least in 3+1 dimensions. So all books on that topic become sloppy at some point.
     
  10. Dec 30, 2013 #9

    WannabeNewton

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    Thanks! I'll get a copy of it then. What did you think of the problem sets in Mandl and Shaw? Were they instructive or really tedious calculations with no real point to them?

    I looked at parts of chapter 1 through the preview and really liked the way they used the normal mode decomposition of the classical electromagnetic field combined with the creation/destruction operator formalism of the QHO to quantize the electromagnetic field. It was a nice complement to the way Klauber does it which is by straightforwardly applying the second quantization prescription to the classical Poisson bracket relations for fields and their conjugate momenta in order to derive the canonical commutator relations for quantum fields and subsequently those of the creation/destruction operators and the number operator. Having seen it done that way, the QHO motivation given by Mandl and Shaw was a nice change of pace.

    It feels like a nice, chatty "bedtime reading" type book but from what I've been told by countless people, it will not teach me how to do any actual calculations and so won't be of much practical use. I do like the whimsical style of writing adopted by Zee though and his anecdotal motivation of the quantization of the electromagnetic field in analogy with the QHO was cute :smile: but I didn't find it as clear as Mandl and Shaw's exposition from the preview.

    Thanks for the replies guys! If you have any more input regarding Mandl and Shaw I'd appreciate it.
     
  11. Dec 30, 2013 #10

    vanhees71

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    I've not worked very much with Mandl and Shaw. So I can only say that the problems seem to be pretty good. Usually QFT problems are a bit tedious, but that's the nature of the subject.

    BTW: You should get the 2nd edition in any case, because it covers also path-integral methods, which are pretty essential for a modern treatment.
     
  12. Dec 30, 2013 #11
    Matthew Schwartz Quantum Field Theory and the Standard Model

    https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Field-Theory-Standard-Model/dp/1107034736/ref=pd_sim_b_62


    WannabeNewton, you might not know it, but you are the luckiest kid in the world, because you want to learn QFT in January 2014 when this books is just about to come out.

    Mark my words, this will be the golden standard QFT textbook for the years to come. Everbody will learn from it. Future generations will just shake their heads and feel pity for the older generations that had to learn from the "other" textbooks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  13. Jan 2, 2014 #12
    I'm quite literally in love with the first chapter (here for free) of Klauber's book, where he breaks the subject into NRQPT, NRQFT, RQPT & RQFT [NRQPT := Non-relativistic quantum particle theory - quantum mechanics].

    As for easy books, I would assume Pal would be a good reference, though after only browsing the early sections of Klauber I feel Peskin & Schroder is a perfect next step, & would rather use that than books that cause the headache of unlearning way more than is necessary...

    Trying to go beyond, but keeping close to, Klauber I found Bjorken & Drell apparently split the subject up into RQPT (first volume) and RQFT (second volume), but I'm afraid they don't really emphasize the theoretical differences between particles and fields, I mean the intro to the first volume says they don't really focus on action principles :frown: Worse, maybe they just define things in the particle perspective that you derive from the field theory perspective (similar to the way the EM field tensor is just defined in Jackson Ch. 11 but derived in Landau). Does anybody know a nice reference, similar to Klauber, that carefully delineates between a particle perspective & a field-theoretic perspective?

    (I know there is a necessity for a field perspective, as 2.1 of Peskin & Schroder argue for, but apparently a lot can be said about a particle perspective)

    Similarly, do you guys know of a non-relativistic quantum mechanics book that really follows this NRQPT vs. NRQFT distinction that Klauber illustrates? You have Jackson Vs. Landau for CFT, Kleppner Vs. Landau for CM, what about NRQM/NRQFT & RQM/RQFT?
     
  14. Jan 2, 2014 #13

    WannabeNewton

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    Haha good to see I'm not the only one who's in love with Klauber's book. This reminds me of Springsteen's opening line at Bob Dylan's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: "The first time I heard Bob Dylan, I was in the car with my mother listening to WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody'd kicked open the door to your mind..."

    I just wish the end of chapter problems were harder. They aren't as computational as problems from other QFT books but they still feel too easy.

    This sounds like quite the textbook. Would you care to elaborate on the extolment?
     
  15. Jan 5, 2014 #14

    dextercioby

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    While I don't question the author's ability to send a message to the reader, the presentation of the book is horrible. Why on Earth did he write it in MS Word and not in some LaTex based software ??
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  16. Jan 7, 2014 #15

    WannabeNewton

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    I asked myself that a million times after constantly mistaking things like ##A^{\mu,\nu}## for ##A^{\mu.\nu}## in equations; at one point I thought I was hallucinating. But after the umpteenth time I just threw my hands in the air and accepted the horrible type-setting at face value.

    At least the type-setting in Mandl and Shaw doesn't make my eyes bleed :p
     
  17. Jan 7, 2014 #16
    I'm using Mandl & Shaw at this moment.
    I kind of like the book.
    A great way to test how well you know your stuff is rereading the small introduction test after a little while. If you can recall more or less the steps taken and the involved pitfalls/difficulties I believe you are doing a good job.

    Once you get through chapter 7, it's important to test your knowledge using the problems at the back.
    There are 3 problems with different interactions. They don't explicitly ask for giving the rules. Yet that would be a good 'test'. First time I succeeded doing such a thing I was very happy, it will motivate you a lot.

    I did however use both Sredinicki and Peskin to clarify some minor details/ see a different take on it
     
  18. Jan 7, 2014 #17

    vanhees71

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    I'd never trust a book that is obviously typed in MS word. Look at the arXiv for papers written in MS word, and you know why ;-)). Of course, there are exception to such prejudices, as, e.g., J. D. Jackson posts preprints typed in word to the arXiv :-(.
     
  19. Jan 7, 2014 #18

    MathematicalPhysicist

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    @vanhees71, why does Jackson post articles in MS word?
     
  20. Jan 7, 2014 #19

    WannabeNewton

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    Because he's a rebel.

    Thanks for the reply. Is there anything in particular that you don't like about it, apart from the omission of more advanced topics?
     
  21. Jan 7, 2014 #20

    vanhees71

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