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Concept# S-matrix theory

Summary

S-matrix theory was a proposal for replacing local quantum field theory as the basic principle of elementary particle physics.
It avoided the notion of space and time by replacing it with abstract mathematical properties of the S-matrix. In S-matrix theory, the S-matrix relates the infinite past to the infinite future in one step, without being decomposable into intermediate steps corresponding to time-slices.
This program was very influential in the 1960s, because it was a plausible substitute for quantum field theory, which was plagued with the zero interaction phenomenon at strong coupling. Applied to the strong interaction, it led to the development of string theory.
S-matrix theory was largely abandoned by physicists in the 1970s, as quantum chromodynamics was recognized to solve the problems of strong interactions within the framework of field theory. But in the guise of string theory, S-matrix theory is still a popular approach to the problem of quantum gravity.
The S-matrix

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We consider constraints on the S-matrix of any gapped, Lorentz invariant quantum field theory in 3+1 dimensions due to crossing symmetry, analyticity and unitarity. We extremize cubic couplings, quartic couplings and scattering lengths relevant for the elastic scattering amplitude of two identical scalar particles. In the cases where our results can be compared with the older S-matrix literature they are in excellent agreement. We also extremize a cubic coupling in 2+1 dimensions which we can directly compare to a universal bound for a QFT in AdS. This paper generalizes our previous 1+1 dimensional results of [1] and [2].

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