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Cornell University

Basic Training 2013

Cornell has a very eclectic group of condensed matter theorists: studying topics ranging from cold atoms to the statistical mechanics of biological networks.  This course is a venue for sharing that breadth: to give condensed matter theory students broad exposure to the tools/techniques/topics of the various research groups.  The title “Basic Training in Condensed Matter Physics” reflects the importance our theory group place on the course.  Some topics are indeed “basic” and approachable by first year graduate students in physics or related disciplines.  Others are “advanced topics” which more senior students will get more out of.  We encourage anyone from any department to attend: theorists and experimentalists.

If you wish to take the course for credit, you must complete two of the four modules (including all of the homework).  We strongly feel that the best way to get the most out of the course is to take it for credit.  All students who are in a condensed matter theory group should take the course for credit.  Auditors are welcome to attend only a single module.

Topics for Spring 2013

Many Body Field Theory

Erich Mueller

Quantum field theory is a powerful tool for describing the properties of many-particle systems.  In this 9 lecture module I will introduce the language of condensed matter field theory.  This will have a different focus than the the related module I gave in 2010,  introducing diagramatic techniques very early, and working on developing fluency with that language. 

This is a module about techniques, and I highly recommend that students also take PHYS 7653 to learn more about particular many body systems, and applications of these (and related) techniques.

There will be 9 lectures, and 8 homework assignments.  Short assignments will be given on Wednesdays, due in 2 days.  Longer assignments will be given on Fridays, due in 5 days.  The lectures will typically focus on qualitative and heuristic arguments, leaving the heavy lifting to the homework. 

This means, to get full benefit from the module you will need to do the homework.  The flip side, however, is that those who are “just along for the ride” should be able to get the gist of things.

Text Books

I will not be following any one particular text, but will assign readings from some of the following texts.  As you can see, there are lots of books on this subject.

Texts available online: (click to access -- may need to be using a Cornell IP address or Passkey for the Altland and Simons book.  Most of the rest are lecture notes, and can be accessed by anyone.)

Texts available in your local library or book store:

  • Abrokosov, Gorkov, Dzyaloshinski, Methods of Quantum Field Theory in Statistical Physics

  • Kadanoff and Baym, Quantum Statistical Mechanics

  • Tsvelick, Quantum Field Theory in Condensed Matter Physics

  • Fetter and Walecka, Quantum Theory of Many-Particle Systems

  • Mattuck, A Guide to Feynman Diagrams in the Many-Body Problem

  • Wen, Quantum Field Theory of Many-body Systems: From the Origin of Sound to an Origin of Light and Electrons

  • Bruus, Many-Body Theory in Condensed Matter Physics: An Introduction

  • Mahan, Many-Particle Physics

  • Negele and Orland, Quantum Many-particle Systems


Homework 1: Due Friday Jan 23, 2013 -- p7654hw1.2013.pdf

    Solutions: p7654sol1.2013.pdf

Homework 2: Parts dues Wed Jan 30 and Friday Feb 1, 2013


    Solutions: p683hw2.2013.v2.sol.pdf

Homework 3: Due Wednesday Feb 6 --p7654hw3.2013.pdf

    -- Solutions: p683hw3.2013.v2.pdf

Homework 4: Due Friday Feb 8 -- p683hw4.2013.pdf

Homework 5: Due Wednesday Feb 13 -- p683hw5.2013.pdf

The Theory of Density Functional Theory: Electronic, Liquid, and Joint

Tomas Arias

Conformal Invariance and Applications

Andre LeClair

Nonlinear Fits to Data: Sloppiness, Differential Geometry and Algorithms

James Sethna