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Zwiebach's string theory book

  1. May 9, 2005 #1
    Hello people

    I have just acquired Zwiebach's "A first course in string theory". I am actually very busy with honours (4th year) coursework and research, so I cannot really get down to reading substantial chunks of it whenever I want to. :mad: Apparently, it covers (and maybe extends) the MIT undergraduate string theory course. I decided to purchase the book for self-study because, as far as I know, there is no university offering a string theory course or anything close to something like a string theory course in Australia at graduate level, or at any whatsoever level, though I know of a couple of students who are actually pursuing graduate studies in quantum gravity theories (LQG, QG for example) at Melbourne Uni, where I actually am (well, I am from the Astrophysics group, but my interest in strings stems from my dual interest in mathematics and physics :cool:). How many of you out there have had a look at the book, or even used it for study? Also, is it possible to get solutions to the problem anywhere on the web? I would really appreciate any comment regarding the book.
    Thanks. :biggrin:
  2. jcsd
  3. May 9, 2005 #2
    I am an undergraduate applied physics student and intend to write an article about string theory for the periodic magazine of my faculty. My search trhough the string theory literature naturally lead me to Zwiebach's book, as it is afaik the only book that is intended for (advanced) undergraduates and covers also the mathematics and quantization of string theory. As I have a very strict time-schedule, I scanned most of the book, and made none of the exercises. But my general impression is that it is quite ok.

    Zwiebachs style is clear and easy to follow, and my impression is that he has a very down to earth opinion about the role of string theory in physics (especially compared to B.Green, I read his 'elegant universe' first...man, this guy is enthousiastic about it...). Zwiebachs treatment of string theory is quite formal, and in my opinion more based on the mathematics than the physics behind formula. This has the advantage of leaving no doubt about the validity of certain formula. But sometimes this also slows down the argument. In my opinion he could have used some more physical arguments instead of formal derivations. Sometimes he does make some approximations and just reasons with words, but then he first appologises.

    The coverage of topics is very good. Most of the time it's about bosonic strings and he does not use supersymmetry. But I guess including this would make it a more advanced course. So I was already very pleased with this toy model of the bosonic string, wich gives you a real flavour of the way string theory describes the world. I especially liked the examples he used of string theory calculations, like a classical relativistic rotating string. I also enjoyed reading the chapters about string thermodynamics (Ch16 where he also indicates the current development of a string calculation that seems to be in favour of the string theoretical description of black holes) and the chpater about T-duality (Ch 17 about strings wrapped around curled up dimensions, this is great stuff for in a pub...).

    So my general impression is quite ok, although he is sometimes a bit too mathematical for my taste, and uses too few physical arguments. But I guess string theory is right now more mathematics than physics...

    For the answers to problems you could maybe get them by sending an email to solutions@cambridge.org by telling them you are a teacher (you are teaching yourself string theory right!)
  4. May 10, 2005 #3
    Solutions to Zwiebach's exercises

    Thanks da_willem for the email address (solutions@cambridge.org). I sent them an email asking for access, and they kindly replied with the following info, which I provide here for those interested:

    Go to: http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521831431&ss=res

    Click on "solutions". You will be prompted for a username and password. Enter the following:

    Username: lecturer
    Password: cambr1dge (note: spelt with a 1, not an i)

    The solutions available so far are from chapter 1 up to and including chapter 16. They are available as downloadable PDF files. The rest, according to the correspondent, will be posted as soon as received from Zwiebach. Enjoy.

    I had incredible luck today. I went to a second-hand book shop and I obtained Green et al.'s "Supertring Theory - Volume 1: Introduction" (CUP) and the 2-volume "Superstrings - The first 15 years of superstring theory" (World Scientific), edited by John Schwarz, all for just AUD$ 50 !! I think a (frustrated?) physicist recently dumped his books there.. lol
    Last edited: May 10, 2005
  5. May 10, 2005 #4
    Da Willem, your review was helpful, thank you.
  6. May 31, 2005 #5
    Zweibach solutions

    That password no longer works. Does anyone have a new password? Or better yet, could someone make a page with the pdf's of the soutions?
  7. May 31, 2005 #6


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    Write them an e-mail telling you're some PhD student somewhere with interest in ST and wanted a good book to get you from scrap,but still find some exercises difficult and then kindly ask for the necessary info (password or something) to get the solutions...

  8. Jun 28, 2005 #7

    George Jones

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    I joined Physics Forum quite recently, and I hope that my response is not too late for you to see.

    I am presently using Zwiebach's book for self-study. I am going quite slowly - I have read thoroughly the first 6 chapters and have written up personal (and thus probably erroneous at times) solutions for the majority (but certainly not all) of the exercises and problems for these chapters. I have also skimmed parts of a number of other chapters.

    Zwiebach has put in a great deal of effort and thought in order to make the book very pedagogical. I am not a strong proponent of string theory, but I have enjoyed this book very much. Last fall, this book, supplement by material from the prof, was used as the text for an introductory graduate course at the University of Toronto.

  9. Jul 18, 2005 #8
    I've written to solutions@cambridge.org, but they never responded. If anyone has a username/password or the PDF's of the solutions, that'd be awesome.
  10. Jul 18, 2005 #9

    Tom Mattson

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    You might try emailing Zweibach directly and asking him to add solutions to his page at MIT OpenCourseWare. He's already got his problem sets posted, so maybe he'll put the solutions up.

    http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/8-251String-Theory-for-UndergraduatesSpring2003/CourseHome/index.htm [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  11. May 18, 2006 #10
    Sorry to bring up such an old thread, but I just started working through Zwiebach's text, and it would be great to have a copy of the solutions to reference. Does anyone have a password to the cambridge site or a copy of the solutions she'd be willing to share?

  12. May 18, 2006 #11

    George Jones

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    I stopped working through Zwiebach right after I made post #7 - life got in the way. I assume the Cambridge solutions are available only to instructors.

    I encourage you to start working your way through from the beginning, doing as many execises and problems as you can while you move along. A number of these exercises and problems are fairly straightforward.

  13. May 18, 2006 #12
    Well, that's what I'm doing. Working independently, though, it's always reassuring to be able to check my solutions.

  14. May 19, 2006 #13
    Hi yaqh and others

    I have the solutions to almost all of the end-of-chapter problems. Given that a significant number of people have been seeking solutions, I'm willing to take the risk and supply the solutions to the exercises in Zwiebach's book to whoever is interested. The solutions are:
    1) not copyrighted, as far as I can tell (so I think there's legally no problem to make it available to many)
    2) are in PDF format
    3) are more than 7 Mb large in toto (zipped)

    To those interested, please post your emails on this thread. One thing though.. I would be very unhappy if you spread my email around, so please refrain from doing so.

  15. May 19, 2006 #14


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    I am interested: arivero@unizar.es
  16. May 19, 2006 #15
  17. May 19, 2006 #16

    My email is tiptonw at neverland dot ncssm dot edu

  18. May 19, 2006 #17
    Interested in Zwiebach solutions!

    Hey Nitin or anyone who has the solutions as well,

    I would be very grateful if you would send me the solutions to Zwiebach's "A first course in string theory".

    My email is svt1983[AT]gmail.com

    I owe you one!
  19. May 19, 2006 #18
    Interested in solution to Zwiebach

    Hey Nitin or anyone who also has the solutions,

    I would be very grateful if you could send me the answers to Zwiebach's "A first course in string theory"!

    My email is svt1983[AT]gmail[DOT]com

    I owe you one!

  20. May 19, 2006 #19
  21. May 19, 2006 #20


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    Thank you very much for the very kind offer Nitin!

    I would like very much to receive a copy. My e-mail address is Patrick.Labelle@gmail.com
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