- Paperback: 508 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (June 13, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521478146
- ISBN-13: 978-0521478144
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.1 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #729,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Quantum Field Theory 2nd Edition
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"It is very strongly recommended to anyone seeking an elementary introduction to modern approaches to quantum field theory." Physics Bulletin
After a brief overview of particle physics and a survey of relativistic wave equations and Lagrangian methods, this text develops the quantum theory of scalar and spinor fields, and then of gauge fields. The emphasis throughout is on functional methods, which have played a large part in modern field theory.
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I found the Feynman integral approach easy to understand, but was confused by the author's attempt to use this approach to explain Feynman diagrams. As in many advanced treatments, there are moments where troubling errors in the editing of text particularly confuse and vex the reader. There are errors in the eigenvectors to the Dirac equation (i.e. the plane wave spinors, p.50 Eqs. 2.137 and 2.138) that can be remedied by looking to the analogous treatment by Schiff Quantum Mechanics (International Pure & Applied Physics Series) (p.476, Eq.52.16). Ryder's derivation of the Dirac equation, although fairly intuitive, lost me in his tracing of the relationship between 2D unitary transformations and 3D rotations (pp.33-34, Eqs.2.39-2.54). For me, this gap in this argument is remedied by reference to the discussion of this topic by Merzbacher Quantum Mechanics (pp.266-7, Eqs.12.35-12.41).
The calculation of the free particle propagator (pp.161-162, 5.16-5.19;pp.180-180, 5A.3-5A.4) is more easily preformed and understood if Fourier transforms are used address the convolution operation, as may be gleaned from texts such as Bracewell The Fourier Transform & Its Applications. Overall, this book offers a good beginning, but after making my way halfway through the book, I found that Peskin and Shroeder's book An Introduction To Quantum Field Theory (Frontiers in Physics) offered me a better chance of making my way somewhat deeper into QTF.
Despite the limitations of Ryder, I feel compelled to give it five stars. The more deeply I delve into QFT, the more I appreciate Ryder. I find myself going back to it again and again. Ryder introduces so many topics in an way that is accessible to the non-expert, that it now seems to me to be almost indispensable.
The best books, in my opinion, on the subject are: by Steven Weinberg and by Bogolyubov and colleagues. These books demand a couple of years of self study, but I see no escape from that task -- if you are a serious student of the subject. These will take you on a path to become a physicist rather than a technician of Physics.
There are many sides to this question; for example, there is the view that the students should be exposed to this vast topic in a complete and thorough way (for such a text, I HIGHLY recommend Weinberg's 3 volume set, which, if not commonly regarded as a classic yet, soon will be), and also there is the point of view that most of the students studying QFT are experimentalists, so they should first be exposed to how to calculate amplitudes and cross sections for useful processes as soon as possible (see Peskin-Schroder for an outstanding exemplification of this principle). Both of these points of view have strong arguments supporting them, and there are many other reasonable opinions that might be taken; perhaps this is an indication that there is not any one approach to this subject which is a good introduction for all, but rather that the student must choose intelligently which text he/she finds they are most comfortable with. However, I can say that for me at least, this book had just the right selection of topics and at just the right level to get me interested in the subject and to give me a taste as to what it would be like if I were to go into it in more depth (which indeed I did). Other reviewers are quite right in pointing out that there are several inaccuracies in this text; also in more than a few places the treatment is considerably less clear than it might have been (this is one of the main strengths of Weinberg's set; every last detail is crystal clear, and the physical reasoning in the derivations is very rarely muddled in the math). Perhaps in this sense, the book could have been better written, and just by this element of style, I probably would have rated this 4 stars. However, I think that these valid criticisms are more than offset by the overwhelming strength of the book:that it is truly inspiring. Several reviewers have gone over details; I shall not rehash these matters, but instead leave off with the statement that this book was the best introduction to QFT that I could have bought.