As far as I know, there are two ways of constructing the computational rules in perturbative field theory.

The first one (in Mandl and Shaw's QFT book) is to pretend in and out states as free states, then calculating
$$\left\langle i \left| T \exp\left(-i \int_{-\infty}^{\infty} H_{int} dt \right) \right| j \right\rangle $$
by the Wick theorem, blah blah blah. The problem is, field/particle always has self interaction, in and out states are not free states. Mandl and Shaw (rev. edi. p 102) then used a heuristic argument, that assuming the interacting is adiabatically switched on,
$$H_{int}(t) \rightarrow H_{int} (t) f(t)$$

such that $f(t) \rightarrow 0$, if $t \rightarrow \pm \infty$.

One may regard this is hand-waving. In certain circumstance, such as the Gell-Mann Low theorem http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gell-Mann_and_Low_theorem , the adiabatically switching can be proved even non-perburbatively.

The second approach, e.g. Peskin and Schroeder's QFT, is to start from correlation function, then use LSZ reduction to connect S-matrix and correlation function. In the correlation function, an epsilon prescription of imaginary time is used.
$$ | \Omega \rangle = \lim_{T \rightarrow \infty ( 1 - i
\varepsilon ) } ( e^{-iE_0 T} \langle \Omega | 0 \rangle^{-1} ) e^{-iHT} | 0 \rangle $$

where $\Omega$ and $0$ are the vacua of interacting and free theories, respectively.

My question is about comparing these two approaches. It seems to me, at the end of the day, that the final results of calculations carried out using both approaches are identical. One may say, LSZ reduction is more physical, since there is no switch on/off in nature. One may also say, time is a real number in nature. There is no imaginary time anyway. And adiabatic switching has potentially advantage in non-perturbative aspect.

Is there any deeper reasoning for comparing these two approaches? I am sorry if this is opinion-based question.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-09-25 20:18 (UTC), posted by SE-user user26143