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String Theory and M-Theory: A Modern Introduction [Hardcover]

by Katrin Becker, Melanie Becker, John H. Schwarz
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 15, 2007 0521860695 978-0521860697 1
String theory is one of the most exciting and challenging areas of modern theoretical physics. This book guides the reader from the basics of string theory to recent developments. It introduces the basics of perturbative string theory, world-sheet supersymmetry, space-time supersymmetry, conformal field theory and the heterotic string, before describing modern developments, including D-branes, string dualities and M-theory. It then covers string geometry and flux compactifications, applications to cosmology and particle physics, black holes in string theory and M-theory, and the microscopic origin of black-hole entropy. It concludes with Matrix theory, the AdS/CFT duality and its generalizations. This book is ideal for graduate students and researchers in modern string theory, and will make an excellent textbook for a one-year course on string theory. It contains over 120 exercises with solutions, and over 200 homework problems with solutions available on a password protected website for lecturers at

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String Theory and M-Theory: A Modern Introduction + A First Course in String Theory + Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition (In a nutshell)
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Editorial Reviews


"This is the first comprehensive textbook on string theory to also offer an up-to-date picture of the most important theoretical developments of the last decade, including the AdS/CFT correspondence and flux compactifications, which have played a crucial role in modern efforts to make contact with experiment. An excellent resource for graduate students as well as researchers in high-energy physics and cosmology."
Nima Arkani-Hamed, Harvard University

"An exceptional introduction to string theory that contains a comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the theory, including recent developments. The clear pedagogical style and the many excellent exercises should provide the interested student or researcher a straightforward path to the frontiers of current research."
David Gross, Director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California, Santa Barabara and winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2004

"Masterfully written by pioneers of the subject, comprehensive, up-to-date and replete with illuminating problem sets and their solution, String Theory and M-theory: A Modern Introduction provides an ideal preparation for research on the current forefront of the fundamental laws of nature. It is destined to become the standard textbook in the subject."
Andrew Strominger, Harvard University

"This book is a magnificcent resource for students and researchers alike in the rapidly evolving field of string theory. It is unique in that it is targeted for students without any knowledge of string theory and at the same time it includes the very latest developments of the field, all presented in a very fluid and simple form. The lucid description is nicely complemented by very instructive problems. I highly recommend this book to all researchers interested in the beautiful field of string theory."
Cumrun Vafa, Harvard University

"This elegantly written book will be a valuable resource for students looking for an entryway to the vast and exciting topic of string theory. The authors have skillfully made a selection of topics aimed at helping the beginner get up to speed. I am sure it will be widely read."
Edward Witten, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton and winner of the Fields Medal in 1990

"A welcome addition to the literature and most likely will be the required text for those physicists who intend to study the many facets of this fascinating subject... String Theory and M-Theory is THE string textbook."
Pierre Ramond, University of Florida, Gainesville, Physics Today

"... a beautiful description of almost all the questions in the field that have been answered so far and those that are still open. The reader of the book gets a good picture of the current state of string theory..."
Marcel L. Vonk, Johannesburg, Mathematical Reviews

Book Description

This book guides the reader through string theory, one of the most exciting and challenging areas of modern theoretical physics. It is ideal for graduate students and researchers in modern string theory, and will make an excellent textbook. It contains exercises with solutions, and homework problems with solutions.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 756 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (January 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521860695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521860697
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book March 10, 2007
I think this is a great book that provides not only a great introduction to string theory (there is no assumed prior knowledge of string theory), but also provides coverage of many more advanced topics as well. I think it's likely that the vast majority of students specializing in string theory will want to read it at some point in their studies.

The coverage of topics in the first few chapters is in some ways fairly standard. The first two chapters consists of a high level overview of string theory, bosonic string, the Nambu-Goto action the Polyakov action, the Virasoro algebra, the critical dimension, light code gauge and the spectra of open/closed strings. After this there is a chapter on conformal field theory, naturally emphasizing the parts relevant to string theory (including a bit of string field theory). This is followed by discussions of worldsheet supersymmetry, spacetime supersymmetry, anomalies, T-duality and heterotic strings. The writing is very clear and considering the nature of the material, fairly straight forward. There are two things that I considered exceptional strengths. One is that the discussions incorporate D-branes, M-theory and the (unexpected) symmetries of string theory early on. The other is that there are numerous worked examples, as there are throughout the book.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best of All Worlds March 9, 2007
This new textbook on string theory might be considered a modern pimped up version of Zwiebach's introductory course. The book is - as an introduction - better than the 2-volume set by Schwarz (Green, Schwarz, Witten), which is partly outdated, and on the same footing as Polchinski's version, but certainly not as thorough and elaborate. There is some overlap between all books (e.g. the CFT bits from Polchinski are quite similar to those in this new text, the introduction of the bosonic string via the relativistic point particle looks like the ones by Polchinski and Zwiebach, but Becker & Schwarz immediately generalise the concept to p-branes, SCFTs are discussed in a similar manner as in Polchinski, and so on), but there are additional features that really add to the value of the book: all exercises within the text have solutions directly under them, so one can either try to solve them or read them through, and some parts are explained more clearly. The concepts of "(gauge) symmetries" are discussed slightly better than by Polchsinki or GSW, but for those who want mathematical proofs instead of hand-waving arguments, and more background material on supersymmetry, I can only say that I have found no books on string theory that really do that. Both are subjects of study on their own and would go "beyond the scope" of these books... Nevertheless, a very good introduction and most of all: up to date! Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book to learn strings from February 12, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a nice book to have if you're trying to learn string theory. The presentation is rather straightforward. What's really nice is each chapter has several solved examples. But best of all the writing is clear and its relatively (no pun intended) easy to follow the book to the end. In my opinion, this book is accessible to anyone with a basic physics (or even math) undergraduate education. Zweibach is a great book for sure, but by design it cuts corners in an attempt to make the subject accessible to undergraduates. I don't think thats really necessary (except maybe avoiding path integrals). What I like about this book is it does not cut corners. Topics that are avoided in Zweibach are definitely discussed in here.
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25 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good general introduction April 21, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
String theory has been criticized since it was first invented but not to the degree that it has now, this criticism mostly focusing on its failure to connect with observation. The criticism has increased dramatically in recent years however, and some of this has been too vituperative to be useful to those curious about string theory as a viable physical theory. But criticism, however harsh, can be healthy, since it motivates the proponents of a theory to more carefully elucidate its foundations and content. This is usually not the case when a theory is popular, as researchers are in a competitive spirit and are hesitant to share the knowledge to possible competitors. At this stage in the game however, string theorists it seems are now on the defensive, and have thus taken the time to discuss in-depth what this reviewer still believes is the most complex and beautiful theory ever constructed in mathematical physics. String theory still has a long way to go before it gains status as being a physical theory, but hopefully by the end of the next few decades one will see the appearance of charts, graphs, and numerical calculations in books on string theory, much like one finds in the most successful of all physical theories to date: relativistic quantum field theory.

Some highlights in the book that are particularly insightful include:

1. The observation that Dirichlet boundary conditions (for the open string) break Poincare invariance, but that this leads to the introduction of Dp-branes as positions of the endpoints of the open string. Poincare invariance is recovered as long as Dp-brane is space filling, i.e. has a dimension one less than the background spacetime.

2. The view that the BRST quantization of the path integral is really a conformal field theory.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for beginers
Good hard-cover book. Very densive content, requires complementary books like Polchinski and Barton. However it contains
almost all the topics in strings theory.
Published 1 month ago by edward q.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Nearly Perfect Introductory Text
I definitely fell into an odd class of people who wanted to educate myself about string theory, yet I am not and will never be an academic physicist. Read more
Published on December 28, 2011 by K. Yost
5.0 out of 5 stars The Marvels of String and M-Theory
The book seems to be very well organized and although it requires some knowledge of quantum field theory and general relativity it is quite accessible. Read more
Published on March 24, 2010 by Magnus Kullberg
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite single-volume "domestic" string theory book.
I approach the subject from a mathematical direction having been greatly interested in the fact that historically speaking, string theory has been evolving backwards and still... Read more
Published on November 1, 2008 by Mark Arjomandi
5.0 out of 5 stars Strung out
I have read "Theory of Everything" and understood the technical elements of physics by Brian Greene. Becker2,Schwarz are math professors first. Reader beware. Read more
Published on February 9, 2008 by Marc A. Meiaser
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Fairytale
This is a fabulous excursion into a world inhabited by all sorts of mythical creatures: Calabi-Yau 3-folds, D-branes, orbifolds, ten and eleven-dimensional backgrounds,... Read more
Published on January 29, 2007 by The Oracle
4.0 out of 5 stars Most up-to-date string theory tome published this year.
This volume was authored by one of the most respected researchers in the field, as well as the Becker sisters. Read more
Published on January 23, 2007 by Mobius
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