Questions tagged [mathematical-physics]

DO NOT USE THIS TAG for elemetary physical questions. This tag is intended for questions on modern mathematical methods used in quantum theory, general relativity, string theory, integrable system etc at an advanced undergraduate or graduate level.

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147
votes
2answers
14k views

Open problems in General Relativity

I would like to know if there are some open mathematical problems in General Relativity, that are important from the point of view of Physics. Is there something that still needs to be justified ...
77
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7answers
9k views

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 ...
70
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4answers
14k views

String Theory: What to do?

This is going to be a relatively broad/open-ended question, so I apologize before hand if it is the wrong place to ask this. Anyways, I'm currently a 3rd year undergraduate starting to more seriously ...
40
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5answers
3k 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 ...
36
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6answers
9k views

How to create new mathematics? [closed]

How do scientists and mathematicians create new mathematics for describing concepts? What is new mathematics? Is it necessarily in format of previous mathematics? Can one person make (invent or ...
35
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7answers
3k 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 ...
34
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11answers
7k views

Find the height of a bar, given the lengths of shadows cast by it and another bar [duplicate]

What is the height of the red bar? My try: with respect to the picture, it seems for the green bar $\frac{h}{H}=\frac{2}{3}$. So, I think that ratio is the same for the red bar, and the height of the ...
28
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0answers
408 views

How are topological invariants obtained from TQFTs used in practice?

Topological quantum field theories (TQFTs) are studied for different reasons, as exemplified in the following places: Atiyah, Topological quantum field theory Lurie, Topological Quantum Field Theory ...
26
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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 ...
25
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4answers
3k 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 ...
24
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2answers
1k views

Atiyah's definitions of Topological Quantum Field Theory

According to Atiyah, a TQFT is a functor from the category of cobordisms to the category of vector spaces. How does this definition relate with the physics of quantum mechanics? What does the ...
21
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1answer
672 views

Functional differential equation (from Quantum Field Theory).

I have a certain differential equation that includes functional derivatives. I know the solution, but I'm having a hard time to show that the equation is indeed solved by the solution. The background ...
20
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7answers
10k 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 ...
20
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4answers
1k 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 ...
19
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10answers
15k views

Do infinity and zero really exist? [closed]

From the first day that I entered college, I was wondering about the relationship between some basic mathematical abstract concepts and nature. I'm going to explain them here and you may find them a ...
19
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1answer
1k 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 ...
18
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4answers
7k 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?...
18
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3answers
2k 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
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1answer
286 views

Integral results in difference of means $\pi(\frac{a+b}{2} - \sqrt{ab})$

$$\int_a^b \left\{ \left(1-\frac{a}{r}\right)\left(\frac{b}{r}-1\right)\right\}^{1/2}dr = \pi\left(\frac{a+b}{2} - \sqrt{ab}\right)$$ What an interesting integral! What strikes me is that the result ...
17
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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 ...
17
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3answers
2k views

Quantum mechanics for mathematicians

I'm looking for books about quantum mechanics (or related fields) that are written for mathematicians or are more mathematically inclined. Of course, the field is very big so I'm in particular ...
17
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3answers
1k 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 ...
16
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2answers
3k views

Relation between $SU(4)$ and $SO(6)$

This is more of a particle physics question than maths. Since $\operatorname{SO}(6)$ and $\operatorname{SU}(4)$ are isomorphic, how are the fields (say for example scalar fields of ${\mathcal{N}}=4$ ...
16
votes
1answer
817 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
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1answer
187 views

Tensor Product and Physics

During lecture, my abstract algebra professor said that the exactness of the tensor product is "absolutely essential" to the existence of physical phenomena such as black holes and the big bang. Is ...
16
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0answers
342 views

Was von Neumann's 1954 ICM address “Unsolved Problems in Mathematics” outdated?

I recently tried to "explain" the generalized probability theory aspect of quantum theory (as one common part of both quantum field theory and quantum mechanics), in the sense of motivations for the ...
15
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2answers
2k views

Prerequisite for Takhtajan's “Quantum Mechanics for Mathematicians”

I want to know the math that is required to read Quantum Mechanics for Mathematicians by Takhtajan. From the book preview on Google, I gather that algebra, topology, (differential) geometry and ...
15
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1answer
468 views

Can different choices of regulator assign different values to the same divergent series?

Physicists often assign a finite value to a divergent series $\sum_{n=0}^\infty a_n$ via the following regularization scheme: they find a sequence of analytic functions $f_n(z)$ such that $f_n(0) = ...
15
votes
2answers
576 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 ...
14
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7answers
3k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Quantum mechanical books for mathematicians

I'm a mathematician. I have good knowledge of superior analysis, distribution theory, Hilbert spaces, Sobolev spaces, and applications to PDE theory. I also have good knowledge of differential ...
14
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
759 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 $\...
14
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2answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
628 views

Is $1+2+3+4+\cdots=-\frac{1}{12}$ the unique ''value'' of this series?

I'm reading about zeta-function regularization in physics and I have some mathematical doubt. I understand that, since a sum of infinite terms is not well defined in a field, a series that is ...
14
votes
3answers
571 views

Geometric meaning of Berezin integration

Berezin integration in a Grassmann algebra is defined such that its algebraic properties are analogous to definite integration of ordinary functions: linearity (taking anticommutativity into account), ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

Where is the wild use of the Dirac delta function in physics justfied?

Wikipedia has a wild article about the Dirac delta function. Are the things listed correct? Or is there no proof that they are correct? For my master thesis I want to refer to rigorous proofs of these ...
13
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2answers
3k 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
votes
3answers
919 views

The apex of parabolic motion forms an ellipse of constant ellipticity.

I am not sure how well-known this is idea is, but here is a .gif illustrating it: Basically, the set of highest points of parabolic motion at constant initial velocity forms an ellipse, with ...
13
votes
2answers
674 views

Relation between representations of Lie Group and Lie Algebra

If $G$ is a Lie Group, a representation of $G$ is a pair $(\rho,V)$ where $V$ is a vector space and $\rho : G\to GL(V)$ is a group homomorphism. Similarly, if $\mathfrak{g}$ is a Lie Algebra, a ...
13
votes
1answer
708 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
189 views

In the Physicists' definition of the path integral, does the result depend on the choice of partitions?

The standard definition of the path integral in Quantum Mechanics usually goes as follows: Let $[a,b]$ be one interval. Let $(P_n)$ be the sequence of partitions of $[a,b]$ given by $$P_n=\{t_0,\dots,...
13
votes
1answer
165 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(\...
12
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2answers
974 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
242 views

Dimensionality in quantum mechanics

I was reading Introduction to quantum mechanics by David J. Griffiths and came across following paragraph: $3$. The eigenvectors of a hermitian transformation span the space. As we have seen, ...
12
votes
1answer
985 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 ...
12
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1answer
1k views

Applications of representation theory in physics

The notes of a lecture on basic group and representation theory I attended last semester begin with a bit of motivation for the argument. They give the following examples for applications in physics: ...
12
votes
1answer
413 views

Applications of TQFTs beyond physics

I'm giving a talk at a postgrad seminar on the topic of topological quantum field theories (TQFTs) with a mixed audience of pure and applied mathematicians. As such, I'd like to be able to offer some ...
12
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1answer
1k views

Renormalization for mathematicians

Can someone explain to me the processes of renormalization and regularization used in quantum field theory and similar fields in a way that a pure mathematician might make sense of it? Is there a ...
12
votes
1answer
298 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\...