Mathematical Methods in Physics

Progress in Mathematical Physics

Book 69
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The second edition of this textbook presents the basic mathematical knowledge and skills that are needed for courses on modern theoretical physics, such as those on quantum mechanics, classical and quantum field theory, and related areas. The authors stress that learning mathematical physics is not a passive process and include numerous detailed proofs, examples, and over 200 exercises, as well as hints linking mathematical concepts and results to the relevant physical concepts and theories. All of the material from the first edition has been updated, and five new chapters have been added on such topics as distributions, Hilbert space operators, and variational methods.

The text is divided into three parts:

- Part I: A brief introduction to (Schwartz) distribution theory. Elements from the theories of ultra distributions and (Fourier) hyperfunctions are given in addition to some deeper results for Schwartz distributions, thus providing a rather comprehensive introduction to the theory of generalized functions. Basic properties and methods for distributions are developed with applications to constant coefficient ODEs and PDEs. The relation between distributions and holomorphic functions is considered, as well as basic properties of Sobolev spaces.

- Part II: Fundamental facts about Hilbert spaces. The basic theory of linear (bounded and unbounded) operators in Hilbert spaces and special classes of linear operators - compact, Hilbert-Schmidt, trace class, and Schrödinger operators, as needed in quantum physics and quantum information theory – are explored. This section also contains a detailed spectral analysis of all major classes of linear operators, including completeness of generalized eigenfunctions, as well as of (completely) positive mappings, in particular quantum operations.

- Part III: Direct methods of the calculus of variations and their applications to boundary- and eigenvalue-problems for linear and nonlinear partial differential operators. The authors conclude with a discussion of the Hohenberg-Kohn variational principle.

The appendices contain proofs of more general and deeper results, including completions, basic facts about metrizable Hausdorff locally convex topological vector spaces, Baire’s fundamental results and their main consequences, and bilinear functionals.

Mathematical Methods in Physics is aimed at a broad community of graduate students in mathematics, mathematical physics, quantum information theory, physics and engineering, as well as researchers in these disciplines. Expanded content and relevant updates will make this new edition a valuable resource for those working in these disciplines.

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About the author

Philippe Blanchard is Professor of Mathematical Physics at Bielefeld University in Germany. Erwin Bruening is a Research Fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
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Additional Information

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Published on
Apr 7, 2015
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Mathematics / Applied
Mathematics / Functional Analysis
Mathematics / General
Mathematics / Optimization
Science / Physics / Mathematical & Computational
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The problem of enumerating maps (a map is a set of polygonal "countries" on a world of a certain topology, not necessarily the plane or the sphere) is an important problem in mathematics and physics, and it has many applications ranging from statistical physics, geometry, particle physics, informatics, biology, etc. This problem has been studied by many communities of researchers, mostly combinatorists, probabilists, and physicists. In 1978+, physicists have invented a method called "matrix models" to address that problem, and many results have been obtained.

Besides, another important problem in mathematics and physics (in particular string theory), is to count Riemann surfaces. Riemann surfaces of a given topology are parametrized by a finite number of real parameters (called moduli), and the moduli space is a finite dimensional compact manifold of complicated topology. The number of Riemann surfaces is the volume of that moduli space. More generally, an important problem in algebraic geometry is to characterize the moduli spaces, by computing not only their volumes, but also their intersection numbers.

The so-called Witten's conjecture (which was first proved by Kontsevich) asserts that Riemann surfaces can be obtained as limits of polygonal surfaces (maps) made of a very large number of very small polygons. In other words, the number of maps in a certain limit should give the intersection numbers of moduli spaces.

In this book, we show how that limit takes place. The goal of this book is to explain the "matrix model" method, to show the main results obtained with it, and to compare it with methods used in combinatorics (bijective proofs, Tutte's equations), or algebraic geometry (Mirzakhani's recursions). The book intends to be self-contained and pedagogical, and will provide comprehensive proofs, several examples, and will give the general formula for the enumeration of maps on surfaces of any topology.

In the end, the link with more general topics as algebraic geometry, string theory, will be discussed, and in particular we give a proof of the Witten-Kontsevich conjecture.

This fifteenth volume of the Poincare Seminar Series, Dirac Matter, describes the surprising resurgence, as a low-energy effective theory of conducting electrons in many condensed matter systems, including graphene and topological insulators, of the famous equation originally invented by P.A.M. Dirac for relativistic quantum

mechanics. In five highly pedagogical articles, as befits their origin in lectures to a broad scientific audience, this book explains why Dirac matters. Highlights include the detailed "Graphene and Relativistic Quantum Physics", written by the experimental pioneer, Philip Kim, and devoted to graphene, a form

of carbon crystallized in a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice, from its discovery in 2004-2005 by the future Nobel prize winners Kostya Novoselov and Andre Geim to the so-called relativistic quantum Hall effect; the review entitled "Dirac Fermions in Condensed Matter and Beyond", written by two prominent theoreticians, Mark Goerbig and Gilles Montambaux, who consider many other materials than graphene, collectively known as "Dirac matter", and offer a thorough description of the merging transition of Dirac cones that occurs in the energy spectrum, in various experiments involving stretching of the microscopic hexagonal lattice; the third contribution, entitled "Quantum Transport in Graphene: Impurity Scattering as a Probe of the Dirac

Spectrum", given by Hélène Bouchiat, a leading experimentalist in mesoscopic physics, with Sophie Guéron and Chuan Li, shows how measuring electrical transport, in particular magneto-transport in real graphene devices - contaminated by impurities and hence exhibiting a diffusive regime - allows one to deeply probe the Dirac nature of electrons. The last two contributions focus on topological insulators; in the authoritative "Experimental Signatures of Topological Insulators", Laurent Lévy reviews recent experimental progress in the physics of mercury-telluride samples under strain, which demonstrates that the surface of a three-dimensional topological insulator hosts a two-dimensional massless Dirac metal; the illuminating final contribution by David Carpentier, entitled "Topology of Bands in Solids: From Insulators to Dirac Matter", provides a geometric description of Bloch wave functions in terms of Berry phases and parallel transport, and of their topological classification in terms of invariants such as Chern numbers, and ends with a perspective on three-dimensional semi-metals as described by the Weyl equation. This book will be of broad general interest to physicists, mathematicians, and historians of science.

This collection of essays is above all intended to pay tribute to the fact that while QM today is a refined and incredibly successful instrument, many issues concerning the internal consistency and the interpretation of this theory are still not nearly as well understood as they ought to be.

In addition, whenever possible these essays take the opportunity to link foundational issues to the many exciting developments that are often linked to major experimental and technological breakthroughs in exploiting the electromagnetic field and in particular, its quantum properties and its interactions with matter, as well as to advances in solid state physics (such as new quantum Hall liquids, topological insulators and graphene). The present volume also focuses on various areas, including new interference experiments with very large molecules passing through double-slits, which test the validity of the Kochen-Specker theorem; new tests of the violation of Bell’s inequalities and the consequences of entanglement; new non-demolition measurements and tests of “wave-function collapse” to name but a few.

These experimental developments have raised many challenging questions for theorists, leading to a new surge of interest in the foundations of QM, which have puzzled physicists ever since this theory was pioneered almost ninety years ago.

The outcome of a seminar program of the same name on foundational issues in quantum physics (QM), organized by the editors of this book and addressing newcomers to the field and more seasoned specialists alike, this volume provides a pedagogically inspired snapshot view of many of the unresolved issues in the field of foundational QM.

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