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Category# Topics in quantum field theory

Summary

In theoretical physics, quantum field theory (QFT) is a theoretical framework that combines classical field theory, special relativity, and quantum mechanics. QFT is used in particle physics to construct physical models of subatomic particles and in condensed matter physics to construct models of quasiparticles.
QFT treats particles as excited states (also called quanta) of their underlying quantum fields, which are more fundamental than the particles. The equation of motion of the particle is determined by minimization of the Lagrangian, a functional of fields associated with the particle. Interactions between particles are described by interaction terms in the Lagrangian involving their corresponding quantum fields. Each interaction can be visually represented by Feynman diagrams according to perturbation theory in quantum mechanics.
History of quantum field theory
Quantum field theory emerged from the work of generations of theoretical physicists spanning much of the 20th century. Its development began in the 1920s with the description of interactions between light and electrons, culminating in the first quantum field theory—quantum electrodynamics. A major theoretical obstacle soon followed with the appearance and persistence of various infinities in perturbative calculations, a problem only resolved in the 1950s with the invention of the renormalization procedure. A second major barrier came with QFT's apparent inability to describe the weak and strong interactions, to the point where some theorists called for the abandonment of the field theoretic approach. The development of gauge theory and the completion of the Standard Model in the 1970s led to a renaissance of quantum field theory.
Quantum field theory results from the combination of classical field theory, quantum mechanics, and special relativity. A brief overview of these theoretical precursors follows.
The earliest successful classical field theory is one that emerged from Newton's law of universal gravitation, despite the complete absence of the concept of fields from his 1687 treatise Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.

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