The Introduction to Quantum Field Theory is a two-semester course. Content-wise, this is a continious 29-week long course, but for administrative purposes it is split in two:
Physics-wise, the split is rather arbitrary, so students seriously interested in the Quantum Field Theory should take both halves of the course.
This web page is the syllabus for the whole course as taught in the academic years 2022/23 — that is, 396K (unique 57575) in Fall 2022, and 396L (unique 57135) in Spring 2023 — by Professor Vadim Kaplunovsky.
Both semesters of the QFT class are planned to be in-person, but if the covid-19 pandemic flares up once again, the class may suddenly become hybrid or even purely-online. I hope it does not happen, but please beware of the possibility.
In any case, I plan on mirroring all lectures via Zoom and have their recording available via Canvas. (Assuming the UT continues to support this option.) So if you are sick, — and especially if you are running a high fever, — don't come to the class but watch the lecture's recording when you feel better.
And just to be safe, get yourself fully vaccinated (3 or 4 shots, including 1 or 2 boosters). UT Health Services offer free vaccinations to all the students.
The formal pre-requisites for the QFT (I) class is graduate standing and the PHY 389 K class (graduate Quantum Mechanics (I)). However, what I care about is your knowledge rather than your status or grades. If you have the pre-requisite knowledge — however you have learned it — I'll sign the paperwork to let you into my class even if you are an undergraduate student.
Understanding Quantum Field Theory requires serious knowledge of quantum mechanics at graduate or advanced undergraduate level. Besides the QM basics — like knowing how to solve the hydrogen atom — you must be familiar with the multi-oscillator systems, the rotational symmetry and the angular momenta as its generators, the identical particles, the perturbation theory, and the basics of scattering theory. For the UT undergraduate students, you should complete the undergraduate QM sequence of 373 + 362K + 362L classes before taking the QFT class. For students who have learned their QM elsewhere, you need either 120 hours of undergraduate QM classes (not counting the inroductory Modern Physics class), or basic undergraduate QM followed by a gradute-level QM class. In any case, read J. J. Sakirai's book Modern Quantum Mechanics in the summer; if you understand everything in it, you are ready for my QFT class, but if the book looks all Japanese to you, you should beef up your Quantum Mechanics before taking Quantum Field Theory.
Besides QM, you would need good undergraduate-level knowledge of Classical Mechanics (especially the Lagrangian and the Hamiltonian formalisms), Classical Electrodynamics (the vector potential A, the gauge transforms, the EM stress-energy tensor, etc.), and basic special relativity (the Lorentz transforms, the 4–vectors, and the tensors). Make sure you are familiar with both 3D and 4D index notations, so expressions like FμνFμν do not confuse you or slow you down. You do not need general relativity for the QFT classes. In terms of the UT undergraduate classes, the 336 + 352K + 352L classes should give you adequate background. If you have not taken the 352L class, read the Griffith's textbook during the summer and focus on chapters/sections 7, 8, 9.1-2, 10.1, and 12.
The undegraduate-level Statistical Mechanics would be very useful for the second semester of QFT (396L), but you would not need it for the first semester (396K).
On the Math side, you would need basic complex analysis, especially the contour integrals and how to calculate them from the residues. In terms of UT undergraduate classes, the M 361 class (not to be confused with M 361K) should be good enough. If you have not taken this class (or its equivalent elsewhere), get a textbook and read it during the summer; focus on the applications rather then the proofs.
Finally, if you have time, learn a bit of continuous group theory. This is not a pre-requisite, as I shall explain in class the basics of continuous groups, their generators, and their representations from scratch. But it would help if you already know something when I do.
For the QFT (II) class, the pre-requisite is QFT (I).
I presume most of QFT (II) students in Spring 2023 would have taken my QFT (I) class in Fall 2022, so I know exactly what you have learned. (Or rather, what you should have learned.) But if you have taken your QFT (I) class from another professor — here at UT or at another University, — please contact me in the Fall to see how well you are prepared for the QFT (II) class. Or if you are out of twon in the Fall, see me during the first week of the Spring semester.
Please beware that the graduate classes take a lot more time and effort than the undergraduate classes you are used to. And my QFT class is rather hard even by the standards of advanced graduate classes. So if you are going to take the QFT class, do not take more than one other hard class in the same semester!
In the first semester (the 396 K class) I shall focus on:
The primary textbook for both semesters of QFT is An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory by Michael Peskin and Daniel Schroeder. The UT library has a digital copy. To a large extent, the course is based on this book and should follow it fairly closely, but don't expect a 100% match.
Since both the course and the main textbook are introductory in nature, many questions would be left an-answered. The best reference book for finding the answers is The Quantum Theory of Fields by Steven Weinberg. The first two volumes of this three-volume series are based on a two-year course Dr. Weinberg used to teach here at UT — but of course they also contain much additional material. To a first approximation, Dr. Weinberg's book teaches you everything you ever wanted to know about QFT and more — which is unfortunately way too much for a one-year intoductory course. (Weinberg's volume 3 is about supersymmetry, a fascinating subject I used to teach, but I won't cover it in this class.)
Besides the textbooks, I wrote a bunch of supplementary notes (and I might write a few more). All these supplemantary notes are linked to this page.
The homeworks are absolutely essential for understanding the course material. Often, due to the time pressure, I will explain the general theory in class and leave the examples for the homework assignment. It is extremely important for you to work them out by yourselves; otherwise, you might think you understand the class material but you would not! Be warned: The homeworks will be very hard.
I shall post homework assignments each week on this page. The solutions will be linked to the same page after the due date of each assignment.
The homeworks are assigned on the honor system: I shall not collect or grade the homeworks, but you should endeavor to finish them on time and check each other's solutions.The solutions to previous years' homeworks — often quite similar to this year's — are available on the web, even on my own web server. On the honor system, I will keep them available at all times. But you should do your best to do the homework yourself, and only then read the solutions I post.
There will be separate final grades for each semester. Each grade is based on two take-home tests, one in the middle of the semester, the other at the end; the mid-term test contributes half of the grade and the end-term test the other half. There will be no in-class final exams.
I shall try using Canvas to schedule Zoom sessions for all the lectures; this way, the lectures would be recorded and you would find the records on Canvas. Apart from that (and the mandatory posting of this syllabus to Canvas), I shall not use Canvas for anything else. In particular, all homeworks and exams will be posted to the homework page rather than to Canvas, and the exam grades shall be emailed directly to the students.
The QFT class is rather intense: there are going to be 4 hours of regular lectures each week as well as extra lectures roughly every other week.
Assuming UT continues to provide technical support, all lectures should be mirrored online via Zoom and their recording available to the students via Canvas.
Besides the regular lectures, I shall give a few extra lectures — roughly, every other week — about subjects that are somewhat ouside the main focus of the course but are interesting for their own sake, such as vortices or grand unified theories. The students are strongly encoraged to attend the supplementary lectures, but there is no penalty for missing them. The issues covered by supplementary lectures will not be necessary to understand the regular lectures and will not appear on exams.
I have a longish list of possible subject for the extra lectures, so at the start of each semester I shall poll the students for their preferences. I shall announce the final list of subjects — and the specific schedule — during the second week of the semester.
Should any regular lecture(s) be canceled because of some emergency, I shall make them up. The make-up lectures will use the same time slot, room, and Zoom link as the extra lectures, but unlike the extra lectures, the make-up lectures will be about the regular class material, and all the sudents should attend them.
Here are tentative schedules:
For students' convenience, I shall keep a log of lectures and their subjects on this page. Since the pace of the course may change according to the students' understanding, I will not make a complete schedule at the beginning of the class. Instead, I will simply log every lecture after I give it. This way, if you miss a lecture, you will know what you should read in the textbook and other students' notes.