New quantum field theory book

Recently I came across the new book Quantum Field Theory – Lectures of Sidney Coleman (World Scientific; 2019). This is a transcription of lectures given to graduate students at Harvard in the academic year 1975-76. The lectures were video-taped (the videos are still available on the web, although the quality is very poor).

Sadly, Coleman died in 2007. This book is essentially a transcription of these lectures by several other physicists. Problems given to the students who took the course are included, along with comprehensive solutions.

If you look up this book on Amazon, you may be frightened by the price (£74.38 in the UK; $87.86 in the USA at the time of writing) but don’t be put off. The book is 1152 pages long, has a large format and smallish print, so there’s a lot of material in it, and in my opinion is a bargain at that price.

So far, I’ve read about the first 100 pages, and find Coleman’s exposition to be clear, readable and, at times, humorous. Details of derivations that Coleman skipped in his lectures are often provided in footnotes by the editors. It’s easily the most accessible QFT book I’ve come across so far. The only negative point is the lack of simpler exercises for readers to work out as they go along. The problems that are included tend to be non-trivial, although as I mentioned, complete detailed solutions are provided.

I’d highly recommend this to anyone seriously interested in learning quantum field theory.

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2 Responses to New quantum field theory book

  1. growescience says:

    Hopefully, it won’t get too confusing later on, but I’ll wait and see. The problem I had with the more traditional QFT books is that I found them totally impenetrable after a few pages. This was especially true of Peskin & Schroeder, where I got lost almost immediately. Srednicki was a bit better, but again lost me after a few chapters.

    The only book I’ve been able to follow reasonably well is the one by Lahiri & Pal, which seems virtually unknown in the QFT textbook arena.

    One aspect of QFT that most books tend to skim over is the motivation for it and the ideas that lead to the quantum field right at the start. Coleman’s first couple of lectures give a good explanation of the thought processes that led to quantum fields, which I found particularly helpful.

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  2. Mark Weitzman says:

    Luckily I pre-ordered the book a few years ago, and received the hardcover version for what would now be the softcover price. I left a review on the Amazon page that was similar to what was stated above. I am now on page 351, and I do have to admit that while the initial going was very clear and thorough, as I get deeper into the material, I could see how someone who has not seen the material before might struggle and be confused by the speed of Coleman’s treatment of countqerterms and renormalized Green functions. So I recommend using this book as a supplement to other more traditional QFT textbooks, such as Srednicki, Peskin & Schroeder etc. In any event the problems and detailed solutions are quite worthwhile.

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