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String Theory Math?

  1. Feb 11, 2009 #1
    Hi, in my sparetime I've been reading lots about physics and more recently string theory/m-theory. I think Im understanding most of the concepts and implications of the theory and I was just wondering if anyone knew where I could get some books explaining the math behind the theory in detail.

    Thanks for your time,
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 11, 2009 #2
    I'm not sure about books detailing the math in detail, but a wonderful book all about superstrings, hidden dimensions, and the quest for the ultimate theory is called The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. I strongly recommend that you read this book if you are interested in string theory and m-theory.
  4. Feb 11, 2009 #3
    Thanks, haha. Ive actually already read it, and it was probably the first book on the subject that I saw. It really inspired and captivated me, definatly a great book.
  5. Feb 11, 2009 #4
    In a word, lots. You'll need, at the very least, a good background in analysis, topology, algebraic topology, and differentiable manifolds. (Maybe a little bit of algebra, too, as certain abstract constructions require it, e.g. tensor products. However, I won't say that it is mandatory.) This will be just the starting point, as you'll then need to have more advanced math to understand the deepest parts of it. Once you get past all of these requirements, it's best to consult an advisor as to what you'd need to do next. Thing is, literature in upper mathematics is rather limited, and unless you have a good guide, you'll never be able to find the resources with which you need to learn.
  6. Feb 19, 2009 #5
  7. Feb 19, 2009 #6
    I am not trying to scare you, but be warned: if you don't know the math behind the theory, you probably don't understand the theory. Many people have knocked on my door and they say they understand special relativity (which is, I'm sure people would agree, MORE intuitive concept) from reading some article and they want to learn more but they have no idea what math it requires. And after talking to them for three minutes I realize they just don't have the right intuition that comes with the theory. Even worse (it is not true for you probably), they state something completely different!

    I don't know, but from my experience in general something sophisticated like a string theory you cannot understand without math. You just won't have the right intuition.

    But if we know your math knowledge level perhaps someone can give you a good advice? After all, you will need it :biggrin:
  8. Feb 23, 2009 #7


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    This book seems to be a reasonably gentle introduction to String Theory:

    A First Course in String Theory by Barton Zwiebach, Cambridge U. Press

    Here a gentle introduction means you are familiar with the mathematics of General Relativity.
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