• Register
PhysicsOverflow is a next-generation academic platform for physicists and astronomers, including a community peer review system and a postgraduate-level discussion forum analogous to MathOverflow.

Welcome to PhysicsOverflow! PhysicsOverflow is an open platform for community peer review and graduate-level Physics discussion.

Please help promote PhysicsOverflow ads elsewhere if you like it.


PO is now at the Physics Department of Bielefeld University!

New printer friendly PO pages!

Migration to Bielefeld University was successful!

Please vote for this year's PhysicsOverflow ads!

Please do help out in categorising submissions. Submit a paper to PhysicsOverflow!

... see more

Tools for paper authors

Submit paper
Claim Paper Authorship

Tools for SE users

Search User
Reclaim SE Account
Request Account Merger
Nativise imported posts
Claim post (deleted users)
Import SE post

Users whose questions have been imported from Physics Stack Exchange, Theoretical Physics Stack Exchange, or any other Stack Exchange site are kindly requested to reclaim their account and not to register as a new user.

Public \(\beta\) tools

Report a bug with a feature
Request a new functionality
404 page design
Send feedback


(propose a free ad)

Site Statistics

205 submissions , 163 unreviewed
5,054 questions , 2,207 unanswered
5,348 answers , 22,725 comments
1,470 users with positive rep
818 active unimported users
More ...

  Summarizing Introduction to Quantum Field Theory

+ 10 like - 0 dislike

I found Sean Carroll's "A No Nonsense Introduction to General Relativity" (about page here. pdf here), a 24-page overview of the topic, very helpful for beginning study. It all got me over the hump of learning the meaning of various terms associated with GR, most of which I had heard before without understanding. It also outlined the most important examples.

Is there a similar document for quantum field theory, which presents the main equations, briefly describes the main ideas, and summarizes the most important applications and results so that the reader can feel the lay of the land before studying in depth?

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:57 (UCT), posted by SE-user Mark Eichenlaub

asked Jul 5, 2011 in Theoretical Physics by Mark Eichenlaub (100 points) [ revision history ]
edited Nov 26, 2017 by Arnold Neumaier
possibly related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/1267/2451

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:57 (UCT), posted by SE-user Qmechanic

4 Answers

+ 4 like - 0 dislike

Veltman's book Diagrammatica is awesome when it comes to the basics of field theory and what it all means.

Reading through that one is in my opinion getting it right from the horse's mouth. Not heavy on the calculations but more on how the QFT and it's tools all work together to form a coherent picture of the subject.

It's true that it's a 300 page book, but I think you'll find that it's really easy to read. It's not high powered math and honestly I haven't found anything that got to the heart of the matter as quickly or with less math. QFT is a big subject and GR is more standalone. Reading a chapter in that book will run you about 20 min and it doesn't hurt the brain because it's all stuff an undergrad can easily do. The other reviews of QFT I've seen are very technical and extremely dense. Let me know if you find a better shorter alternative: I'd like to read something that succinct myself!

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:57 (UCT), posted by SE-user unclejamil
answered Jul 5, 2011 by unclejamil (140 points) [ no revision ]
+ 3 like - 0 dislike

Feynman's book QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter is probably your best bet. He spells out what is going on in the equations of quantum electrodynamics in about 120 pages and briefly touches on how these equations generalize in other parts of QFT.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:58 (UCT), posted by SE-user ohwilleke
answered Jul 11, 2011 by ohwilleke (70 points) [ no revision ]

Does it mean the other sources are "Nonsense Introductions to Quantum Field Theory"?

+ 3 like - 0 dislike

Gerard 't Hooft's "Quantum Field Theory for Elementary Particles. Is Quantum Field Theory a theory?" (Phys. Rept. 104 nos. 2-4 (1984), 129-142, author's eprint) is a beautifully written review. From the abstract,

What I would like to point out is that renormalizability is just one step in an evolutionary process of quantum field theory. In order to illuminate this point of view I will present a survey of the evolution of quantum field theory into its present form. However we will not follow the historical development, but rather, for my convenience, the lines of logic. As is well known, that is quite something different.

't Hooft also has a longer introduction to the subject:

The conceptual basis of Quantum Field Theory. Gerard 't Hooft. In Philosophy of Physics (J. Butterfield & J. Earman, eds., Elsevier/North-Holland: Amsterdam, 2007). Author's eprint.

This reads more like a textbook geared at readers with fairly solid quantum mechanics and a good understanding of special relativity, and covers a rather wide range of topics, so it is a little more advanced.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:58 (UCT), posted by SE-user Newman
answered Aug 8, 2011 by Newman (75 points) [ no revision ]
+ 0 like - 0 dislike

A good (which I define as short, conceptual, readable) introduction to QFT is surprisingly difficult to find. Feynman's QED (see another answer) is the best for those who want to understand the core concepts. Kane's Modern Elementary Particle Physics is a good intro for those who want more detail. I see that there's a new edition.

answered Nov 29, 2017 by Giulio Prisco (190 points) [ no revision ]

Your answer

Please use answers only to (at least partly) answer questions. To comment, discuss, or ask for clarification, leave a comment instead.
To mask links under text, please type your text, highlight it, and click the "link" button. You can then enter your link URL.
Please consult the FAQ for as to how to format your post.
This is the answer box; if you want to write a comment instead, please use the 'add comment' button.
Live preview (may slow down editor)   Preview
Your name to display (optional):
Privacy: Your email address will only be used for sending these notifications.
Anti-spam verification:
If you are a human please identify the position of the character covered by the symbol $\varnothing$ in the following word:
Then drag the red bullet below over the corresponding character of our banner. When you drop it there, the bullet changes to green (on slow internet connections after a few seconds).
Please complete the anti-spam verification

user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required

Your rights