"Mathematical physics consists of the application of mathematics to problems in physics and the development of mathematical methods suitable for such applications and for the formulation of physical theories." (from Journal of Mathematical Physics) This tag is intended for questions on methods used ...

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60
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What is “Bra” and “Ket” notation and how does it relate to Hilbert spaces?

This is my first semester of quantum mechanics and higher mathematics and I am completely lost. I have tried to find help at my university, browsed similar questions on this site, looked at my ...
33
votes
7answers
2k views

What are some math concepts which were originally inspired by physics?

There are a number of concepts which were first introduced in the physics literature (usually in an ad-hoc manner) to solve or simplify a particular problem, but later proven rigorously and adopted as ...
30
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5answers
2k views

Level of Rigor in Mathematical Physics

I am a physics/math undergrad and I have recently become familiar with some more rigorous formalisms of mechanics, such as Lagrangian mechanics and Noether's Theorem. However, I've noticed that the ...
28
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5answers
871 views

Why does adding a term $5f'(t)$ to $5f''(t)+10f(t)=0$ cause damping?

So we have a differential equation to model an oscillator: $$5f''(t)+10f(t)=0$$ Where the initial conditions are $f(0)=0$ and $f'(0)=4$. It is given that $f(t) = \frac{2\sqrt 2}{5}\sin\sqrt2 t$. ...
23
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3answers
810 views

Making some standard theoretical physics argument rigorous

In theoretical physics one often encounters the following rationale: if $f$ and $g$ are functions on $\mathbf{R}^n$, satisfying some technical conditions, and $\displaystyle\int_\Omega f=\int_\Omega g$...
23
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1answer
1k views

Why do zeta regularization and path integrals agree on functional determinants?

When looking up the functional determinant on Wikipedia, a reader is treated to two possible definitions of the functional determinant, and their agreement is trivial in finite dimensions. The first ...
22
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3answers
1k views

What's the name of this theorem?

It happens very often in physics that we find relations like: $$\int_V f(x) dx = \int_V g(x) dx$$ for an arbitrary volume $V$. From this we usually say "Since the volume is arbitrary, the integrands ...
20
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4answers
1k views

Mathematical and Theoretical Physics Books

Which are the good introductory books on modern mathematical physics? Which are the good advanced books? I read Whittaker's Analytical Dynamics, and I am reading Arnold's Mathematical Methods of ...
19
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7answers
4k views

Mathematics needed in the study of Quantum Physics

As a 12th grade student , I'm currently acquainted with single variable calculus, algebra, and geometry, obviously on a high school level. I tried taking a Quantum Physics course on coursera.com, but ...
18
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3answers
1k views

A fun problem by Arnold using the Poincaré recurrence theorem

I came across this problem by V. I. Arnold while studying his classical mechanics book. Consider a sequence where the $n^{th}$ term is made up by considering the first digit of $2^n$, the first ...
18
votes
5answers
399 views

Area enclosed by an equipotential curve for an electric dipole on the plane

I am currently teaching Physics in an Italian junior high school. Today, while talking about the electric dipole generated by two equal charges in the plane, I was wondering about the following ...
16
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4answers
1k views

What is the motivation for analytic solutions in Mathematical Physics?

I am trying to understand why one cares about solving PDE's with an analytic/theoretical solution when one can use numerical methods? If you tell me, "only mathematicians try to find theoretical ...
16
votes
1answer
367 views

Legendre Transformation of a Lagrangian in Classical Mechanics

I have some questions about the Legendre Transformation of a Lagrangian in Classical Mechanics to the Hamiltonian: We start with a Lagrangian $L(q,\dot{q})=\frac{\langle \dot{q} , \dot{q}\rangle }{2} ...
16
votes
1answer
831 views

Stochastic interpretation of Einstein equations

Einstein's theory of gravitation, general relativity, is a purely geometric theory. In a recent question I wanted to know what the relation of Brownian motion to the Helmholtz equation is and got a ...
15
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5answers
983 views

In what ways has physics spurred the invention of new mathematical tools?

I came across this comment: Mathematical rigor is not a criterion that physicists have for evaluating their theories. From a mathematical perspective, the non-rigorous theories are far more ...
15
votes
4answers
532 views

Correct spaces for quantum mechanics

The general formulation of quantum mechanics is done by describing quantum mechanical states by vectors $|\psi_t(x)\rangle$ in some Hilbert space $\mathcal{H}$ and describes their time evolution by ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the exact and precise definition of an ANGLE?

On wikipedea I found a definition of an Angle as such: "In order to measure an angle θ, a circular arc centered at the vertex of the angle is drawn, e.g. with a pair of compasses. The length of ...
13
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3answers
3k views

What's the Clifford algebra?

I'm reading a book on Clifford algebra for physicists. I don't quite understand it conceptually even if I can do most algebraic manipulations. Can some-one teach me what the Clifford algebra really is?...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Mathematically rigorous text on classical electrodynamics.

Is there any textbook (preferably not written by a physicist) on classical electrodynamics which gives a rigorous (by the standards of pure mathematics) treatment of (a part of) the topics found in ...
13
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1answer
165 views

Interpretation of an integral transform from the wave equation to the heat equation

I'm having troubles with understanding the physical meaning of a certain transform. If $u$ is a solution to the wave equation $$\partial_t^2u-\Delta u=0\ \mathrm{in}\ \mathbb{R}^n\times(0,\infty)...
13
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1answer
519 views

Topological Quantum Field theories

I was wondering about the following on TQFTs. It is said that TQFTs have vanishing Hamiltonians $\hat{\mathcal{H}}$. Firstly, I would like to ask: Why is this so? Secondly, consider the ...
12
votes
3answers
315 views

Arnold Trivium Problem 39

We find in Arnold's Trivium the following problem, numbered 39. (The double integral should have a circle through it, but the command /oiint does not work here.) Calculate the Gauss integral $...
12
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4answers
1k views

Is this a dirac delta function?

I had this on an exam yesterday, and I'm not entirely convinced that the statement is true. We were asked to show that the function $\delta (x) = \int_{-∞}^{∞} \frac{1}{t(t-x)} dt$ is a dirac delta ...
12
votes
2answers
835 views

How to introduce stress tensor on manifolds?

I want to understand the type of stress tensor $\mathbf{P}$ in classical physics. Usually in physics it is said that the force $\text d \boldsymbol F$ (vector) acting on an infinitesimal area $\text ...
12
votes
1answer
248 views

Problem in Hamiltonian system

Not sure if this is too much physics to be here... Consider $$H:\mathbb{R}^{2N+1}\rightarrow\mathbb{R}$$ of class $C^2$, let $H(x,y,z)$ such that $x\in\mathbb{R}^N$, $y\in\mathbb{R}^N$ and $z\in\...
11
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7answers
963 views

Why does the “separation of variables” method for DEs work? [duplicate]

Heyho, I am using the separation-of-variables method for quite a while now, but what was always bothering me a bit, is why is it possible to do those operations. I'll give a concrete example (source ...
11
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3answers
428 views

Meaning of $\int\mathop{}\!\mathrm{d}^4x$

What the following formula mean? $$\int\mathop{}\!\mathrm{d}^4x$$ I know that this $\int f(x)\mathop{}\!\mathrm{d}x$ is the integral of the function $f$ over the $x$ variable, but the following $\...
11
votes
3answers
693 views

Qualitatively, what is the difference between a matrix and a tensor?

Qualitatively (or mathematically "light"), could someone describe the difference between a matrix and a tensor? I have only seen them used in the context of an undergraduate, upper level classical ...
11
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3answers
462 views

Areas of contemporary Mathematical Physics

I have often heard that some developments in Physics such as Gauge Theory, String Theory, Twistor Theory, Loop Quantum Gravity etc have had a significant impact on pure Mathematics especially geometry ...
11
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1answer
317 views

Guidance regarding research in Mathematical Physics

I am currently a Master's student in Mathematics. The main focus of my undergraduate programme was on Mathematics. However as a part of the course, I have done some Theoretical Physics courses. In ...
11
votes
1answer
476 views

Quantization of angular momentum: is Dirac's proof wrong?

I'm trying to understand the physicist's proof of the theorem on the spectral structure of angular momentum operators (I'm being told that this proof is due to Dirac). I will refer to Ballentine's ...
10
votes
2answers
485 views

Existence and uniqueness of Stokes flow

What are the solution existence and uniqueness conditions for Stokes' flow? $$\begin{gathered} \nabla p = \mu \Delta \vec{u} + \vec{f} \\ \nabla \cdot \vec{u} = 0 \end{gathered}$$ Maybe you could ...
10
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4answers
784 views

Is there any abstract theory of electrical networks?

Designing electrical networks is among the highly mathematical engineering disciplines, which uses a vast scope of techniques from Fourier analysis and complex function theory, to logic, combinatorics ...
10
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2answers
480 views

Arnold's theorem on action-angles.

I changed the question slightly in its form to make it more readable. I have a question about the action-angle theorem on p. 283 in Arnold's textbook on classical mechanics.(I added the link to this ...
10
votes
1answer
493 views

Electrodynamics in general spacetime

Let $M\cong\mathbb{R}^4_1$ be the usual Minkowski spacetime. Then we can formulate electrodynamics in a Lorentz invariant way by giving the EM-field $2$-form $\mathcal{F}\in\Omega^2(M)$ and ...
10
votes
2answers
332 views

Applications of Algebra in Physics

Often I have heard about the link between Algebra (in particular Representations of Groups and Algebras) and some "indefinite" field of Physics. I have a good preparation in Algebra and ...
10
votes
1answer
529 views

Is the Structure Group of a Fibre Bundle Well-Defined?

Am I right in thinking that the structure group of a fibre bundle is any group $G$ of homeomorphisms of the fibre $F$ such that all transition functions map into $G$? Or is $G$ somehow the minimal ...
10
votes
1answer
114 views

Identity in general relativity, not sure if true or not

Let $(M, g_{ab})$ be a spacetime and define a new metric, $\tilde{g}_{ab}$, on $M$ by $\tilde{g}_{ab} = \Omega^2 g_{ab}$, where $\Omega$ is a smooth, positive function. Let $\nabla_a$ denote the ...
10
votes
2answers
203 views

Is $\int |x\rangle \langle x|dx$ Mathematical?

I am enrolling in a Quantum Mechanics class. As we all know, the formulation of the basic ideas from QM relies heavily on the notion of Hilbert Space. I decide to take the course since it might help ...
10
votes
1answer
976 views

Hodge Star Operator

I'm trying to understand the Hodge star operation, but have come across an impasse almost immediately. I have the definition $$(\star \omega)_{a_1\dots a_{n-p}}=\frac{1}{p!}\epsilon_{a_1\dots a_{n-1}...
10
votes
1answer
375 views

What exactly is an integral kernel?

I am not sure if I have seen integral transforms in the right way, but given a transform like Fourier transform - it's actually a basis transformation right ? $$ F(y) = \int K(x,y) f(x) \text{d}x $$ ...
10
votes
5answers
377 views

What went wrong? [One-dimensional-inverse-square-law]

Intrigued by this question, one-dimensional inverse square laws, I started to try to find an answer and came up with what follows. However, I calculated the derivatives to double check myself, and ...
10
votes
1answer
227 views

Adding small correction term to ODE solution

Let $\mathbf{r}(t) = [x(t), y(t), z(t)]$ and $\mathbf{v}(t) = \frac{d}{dt}\mathbf{r}(t)$. I'm trying to solve $$ \frac{d}{dt}\mathbf{v}=\frac{q}{m}(\mathbf{v}\times\mathbf{B}) \tag{1} $$ where $q$ and ...
10
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0answers
85 views

A version of Ampère's law

The most common proof that I have found of the fact that Ampère's law is entailed by the Biot-Savart law uses the fact that, if $\boldsymbol{J}:\mathbb{R}^3\to\mathbb{R}^3$, $\boldsymbol{J}\in C_c^2(\...
9
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1answer
1k views

What are defining & fundamental representations?

In physics terminology, one hears of the fundamental & defining representations of lie algebras or groups - are these the same as irreducible representations?
9
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2answers
265 views

What is the simplest mathematical concept that does not map to a physical phenomenon?

One of my colleagues argues that everything in math proves something in the physical world. For instance, he claims that the existence of math to describe fractals proves the infinite divisibility of ...
9
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2answers
484 views

What is a particle mathematically?

In quantum field theory, what is a particle mathematically? How would you explain to someone who kows alot of math but no physics what a particle is? A simple example model would suffice.
9
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1answer
377 views

Maurer-Cartan 1-form

Can anyone help me with the following? Let $\rho$ be the right-invariant Maurer-Cartan 1-form $$\rho = dg\ g^{-1}$$ I want to show that the MC equation $$d\rho - \rho \wedge\rho = 0$$ holds. So ...
9
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1answer
154 views

Essential Selfadjointness of Quantum Harmonic Oscillator Hamiltonian

The Hamiltonian for the Quantum Harmonic Oscillator is (disregarding constants) the Hermite operator $$ Hf = -f''+x^{2}f, $$ where $\mathcal{D}(H)$ consists of all twice absolutely ...
9
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1answer
216 views

Derivation of Schrödinger's equation

I recall a famous quote of the late physicist Richard Feynman: Where did we get that from? It's not possible to derive it from anything you know. It came out of the mind of Schrödinger. This ...