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Concept# Renormalization

Summary

Renormalization is a collection of techniques in quantum field theory, statistical field theory, and the theory of self-similar geometric structures, that are used to treat infinities arising in calculated quantities by altering values of these quantities to compensate for effects of their self-interactions. But even if no infinities arose in loop diagrams in quantum field theory, it could be shown that it would be necessary to renormalize the mass and fields appearing in the original Lagrangian.
For example, an electron theory may begin by postulating an electron with an initial mass and charge. In quantum field theory a cloud of virtual particles, such as photons, positrons, and others surrounds and interacts with the initial electron. Accounting for the interactions of the surrounding particles (e.g. collisions at different energies) shows that the electron-system behaves as if it had a different mass and charge than initially postulated. Renormalization, in this example, mathematically replaces the initially postulated mass and charge of an electron with the experimentally observed mass and charge. Mathematics and experiments prove that positrons and more massive particles like protons exhibit precisely the same observed charge as the electron – even in the presence of much stronger interactions and more intense clouds of virtual particles.
Renormalization specifies relationships between parameters in the theory when parameters describing large distance scales differ from parameters describing small distance scales. Physically, the pileup of contributions from an infinity of scales involved in a problem may then result in further infinities. When describing spacetime as a continuum, certain statistical and quantum mechanical constructions are not well-defined. To define them, or make them unambiguous, a continuum limit must carefully remove "construction scaffolding" of lattices at various scales. Renormalization procedures are based on the requirement that certain physical quantities (such as the mass and charge of an electron) equal observed (experimental) values.

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Renormalization

Renormalization is a collection of techniques in quantum field theory, statistical field theory, and the theory of self-similar geometric structures, that are used to treat infinities arising in calculated quantities by altering values of these quantities to compensate for effects of their self-interactions. But even if no infinities arose in loop diagrams in quantum field theory, it could be shown that it would be necessary to renormalize the mass and fields appearing in the original Lagrangian.

Gauge theory

In physics, a gauge theory is a field theory in which the Lagrangian is invariant under local transformations according to certain smooth families of operations (Lie groups). The term gauge refers to any specific mathematical formalism to regulate redundant degrees of freedom in the Lagrangian of a physical system. The transformations between possible gauges, called gauge transformations, form a Lie group—referred to as the symmetry group or the gauge group of the theory. Associated with any Lie group is the Lie algebra of group generators.

Virtual particle

A virtual particle is a theoretical transient particle that exhibits some of the characteristics of an ordinary particle, while having its existence limited by the uncertainty principle. The concept of virtual particles arises in the perturbation theory of quantum field theory where interactions between ordinary particles are described in terms of exchanges of virtual particles. A process involving virtual particles can be described by a schematic representation known as a Feynman diagram, in which virtual particles are represented by internal lines.

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