Quantum field theory (QFT) is the framework underpinning the remarkably successful standard model of particle physics and many of its proposed extensions, including models containing supersymmetry and the grand unification of the fundamental forces. It is, therefore, an essential ingredient in training researchers in particle physics.
A Modern Introduction to Quantum Field Theory provides a useful introduction. Books in the Oxford Master Series in Statistical, Computational and Theoretical Physics are aimed at final-year undergraduate and beginning postgraduate students, providing straightforward introductions to key topics in physics. This book satisfies these goals very well.
The title contains the word "modern". This does not imply that it incorporates a detailed discussion of current topics of research in particle physics, such as neutrino oscillations, supersymmetry or the origin of the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe. As Michele Maggiore explains in the preface, "modern" connotes his goal of showing that techniques of QFT are fundamental tools in a range of domains of physics, including statistical mechanics, critical phenomena, condensed matter physics and cosmology, as well as nuclear and particle physics. This is undoubtedly true, and the book contains sections discussing the field theoretical basis of topics such as the cosmological constant, critical phenomena and superconductivity.
Maggiore's exposition of QFT follows a traditional route from the canonical quantisation of scalar, spin 1/2 and vector fields, such as the Higgs boson, electron and photon respectively, to the construction of the standard model of particle physics. The presentation is clear and comprehensive - I was interested to note the discussion of the Majorana fermions and masses, currently used in attempts to understand the origin of neutrino masses - and at each stage Maggiore takes care to remind readers where they are on the road map, both within the limits of the book and in relation to more advanced topics.
As the author says in the preamble to the bibliography, the existing literature on QFT and related topics is vast. This introduction to the subject will compete for students' attention with many of the books listed in the bibliography and others that cover similar material but proceed to the more advanced topics necessary for research in particle physics. Its pedagogical qualities should ensure that it will be one of the handful of textbooks used in introductory QFT classes.
Christopher Sachrajda is professor of physics, Southampton University.
A Modern Introduction to Quantum Field Theory. First edition
Author - Michele Maggiore
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Pages - 291
Price - £47.95 and £23.95
ISBN - 0 19 852073 5 and 852074 3