Quantum field theory
Gross, David J. Department of Physics, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey. Nobelist.
Last reviewed:August 2020
- Quantum electrodynamics
- Theories of other interactions
- General properties
- Feynman diagrams
- Path-integral formalism
- Renormalization group
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The quantum-mechanical theory of physical systems whose dynamical variables are local functions of space and time. As distinguished from the quantum mechanics of atoms, quantum field theories describe systems with an infinite number of degrees of freedom. Such theories provide the natural language for describing the interactions and properties of elementary particles, and have proved to be successful in providing the basis for the fundamental theories of the interactions of matter. The present understanding of the basic forces of nature is based on quantum field theories of the strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational interactions. Quantum field theory is also useful in the study of many-body systems, especially in situations where the characteristic length of a system is large compared to its microscopic scale. See also: Nonrelativistic quantum theory; Quantum mechanics
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