Monday, 5 January 2009

The Road To Quantum Field Theory

Dedicated readers will know that I've been presenting topics from theoretical physics with the goal of leading from Lagrangian mechanics all the way to quantum field theories. There were a few posts I made on special relativity and relativistic quantum mechanics before the 'QFT Series' of posts really began, and a number of other posts interspersed with those in the series. The most recent post introduced a mathematical notation useful in special relativity and relativistic quantum mechanics, notably four-vectors, tensors, etc.

Near the beginning I presented a list of topics I was going to cover. At this stage, I think it is appropriate to present a list of topics I've already covered, with links to the posts covering them, then to briefly outline the steps which still remain.

Pre-Series posts on Special Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and Particle Physics

The 'Road to QFT' Series

Out-of-Series Posts

  • Relativistic Electrodynamics (Covariant Formulation of Maxwell's Equations)
  • Relativistic Quantum Mechanics: From Schrödinger to Klein-Gordon
  • Relativistic Quantum Mechanics II: The Dirac Equation and Spin
  • Symmetries and the Gauge Principle
  • Quantum Electrodynamics (QED)
  • Aside on Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD)
  • SU(2) and Electroweak Unification
  • Aside on Superconductivity (maybe...)
  • Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking and the Higgs Mechanism
You may notice that the imminent parts of the roadmap are becoming more clearly defined, while the still-distant final topics are broad and loosely defined. For example, there's likely to be more than one post on QED, but until I get there I don't know how many posts it will take!


  1. Yay! QFT!

    Do you have a favorite QFT text for self study?

  2. I have a favourite QFT text. Whether it is particularly great for self study I'm not sure, but it seems to be readable and things are generally well explained.

    When I had some courses on the topic I worked through the chapters of the book slightly ahead of the course, so I guess it could work.

    Gauge Theories in Particle Physics (Volumes I and II), IJR Aitchison & AJG Hey (Taylor & Francis, 2003)

    Volume I covers relativistic quantum mechanics and QED, Voulume II covers QCD and the Electroweak Theory.

  3. I forgot to mention that I'm referring to the third edition, which consists of two volumes. The first and (I believe) second editions were a single volume.

  4. Whoa, Nelly! Gauge theory sounds like a big leap.

    All I've had so far is Intro to QM out of Griffiths.

  5. The gauge theory stuff pretty much starts from there. If you work through most of the stuff in Griffiths first, you should be in a position to start Aitchison & Hey.

    You may want to leave the later chapters of Griffiths (on electroweak unification) until after reading the first volume of A&H though!