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String Theory, Vol. 1 (Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics): Volume 1 Paperback – 20 Jun 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Pbk. Ed edition (20 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521672279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521672276
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 2.2 x 24.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 595,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

'… this is an impressive book. It is notable for its consistent line of development and the clarity and insight with which topics are treated … It is hard to think of a better text in an advanced graduate area, and it is rare to have one written by a master of the subject. It is worth pointing out that the book also contains a collection of useful problems, a glossary, and an unusually complete index.' Physics Today

'… the most comprehensive text addressing the discoveries of the superstring revolutions of the early to mid 1990s, which mark the beginnings of 'modern' string theory.' Donald Marolf, American Journal of Physics

'Physicists believe that the best hope for a fundamental theory of nature - including unification of quantum mechanics with general relativity and elementary particle theory - lies in string theory. This elegant mathematical physics subject is expounded by Joseph Polchinski in two volumes from Cambridge University Press … Written for advanced students and researchers, this set provides thorough and up-to-date knowledge.' American Scientist

'We would like to stress the pedagogical value of the present book. The approach taken is modern and pleasantly systematic, and it covers a broad class of results in a unified language. A set of exercises at the end of each chapter complements the discussions in the main text. On the other hand, the introduction of techniques and concepts essential in the context of superstrings makes it a useful reference for researchers in the field.' Mathematical Reviews

'It amply fulfils the need to inspire future string theorists on their long slog and is destined to become a classic. It is a truly exciting enterprise and one hugely served by this magnificent book.' David Bailin, The Times Higher Education Supplement

Book Description

This 1998 volume provides a comprehensive account of the bosonic string, introducing the central ideas of string theory, based on the Polyakov path integral and conformal field theory. This is an essential text and reference for graduate students and researchers interested in modern superstring theory.

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Format: Hardcover
I think there is no other book with so clear and precise explanations of string theory. All equations are carefully derived, all non-trivial conclusions are reached by a sequence of trivial thoughts. It exhibits the author's great pedagogical talent.
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Format: Hardcover
Exposition is extrememely clear, and requires very little background in field theory - although it may require some sophistication. (ie it helps to have tried and not understood before.)
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By A Customer on 29 Aug. 1998
Format: Hardcover
Excelent introduction to string theory. Carefully written, paying attention to details and displaying the logic structure of the theory in a very clear way.
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Format: Hardcover
Really the excelent book on string theory. All explanation are clarified. It does not require a deep knowledge in Quantum Field Theory. It combine investigation during last 20 years.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x95c0be64) out of 5 stars 17 reviews
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95c259fc) out of 5 stars very thorough and complete 22 Aug. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Polochinski presents upto date developments (mostly in 2nd volume) in string theory such as D-branes and dualities that are not discussed in Green, Witten, Schwarz's Superstring theory text. However, I found GWS's arguments easier to follow because they were intuitively and physically motivated. Although Polchinski's books lack physical insights, he more than makes up for them by completeness of the material, mathematical rigor and helpful exercises. However, I highly recommend that you first get Di Francesco's conformal field theory and read chapters 3-7 , 10 and 12 to get a better feel for stuff like state-operator mappings, Virasoro algebra, OPE's, etc. Although Polchinski claims the books are pretty much self-contained, I would say QFT (probably around lvl of 1st vol. of Weinberg) and GR are min prereq and some knowledge of SUSY, rep. theory of Lie alg, alg. toplogy wouldn't hurt. Lastly, the first edition had many many typos but corrections are frequently updated and you can download them through a website whose address is given in the book (the address in the book has a typo and should read "ucsb").
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x965ce60c) out of 5 stars Enlightening text on a murky topic 16 Sept. 2002
By Derek Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book succeeds in what seems to be the impossible. It actually presents a clear, up to date, and entertaining version of a field that is still very much in a state of active research and is still, after all these years, on quite uncertain ground. By studying this, the reader who thinks intelligently about the material presented will be able to form his/her own opinions on this still somewhat controversial topic and will be able to converse intelligently with others who have opinions on the topic. I know that for me personally, this text opened up beautiful ideas which, to a large extent, are still unexplored. Before I read this book, my gut feelings about the topic were that it was rather dubious at best, but now that I understand (I think) the basic ideas of the field, I feel quite comfortable in it, indeed almost as if it is completely natural. What I think is one of the best things about this book is that it does not assume the pretense that string theory is on firm ground, that everything is quite certain and that string theory HAS to be the final theory of nature in all its glory. I find this attitude EXTREMELY pretensious and annoying. Instead, it simply covers what we know about string theory, and explains in detail just why it is consistent, and why it offers an explanation for what we see in nature. In short, it leaves just enough room for the imagination of an intelligent reader to philosophize as to the meaning of the theory and as to its ultimate place in nature
As for practical details, it seems to me that the reader should at the very least have a firm understanding of Quantum Field Theory (at least at the level of Weinberg's first volume, see my review on that modern masterpiece), and to a lesser extent of General Relativity, before even attempting to tackle this. I know that I myself, despite the fact that I have read several texts on QFT, had to reread several sizeable chunks of the book to fully digest it.
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95df09d8) out of 5 stars The best introduction to strings. 24 Jun. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I think there is no other book with so clear and precise explanations of string theory. All equations are carefully derived, all non-trivial conclusions are reached by a sequence of trivial thoughts. It exhibits the author's great pedagogical talent.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x972028f4) out of 5 stars The string theory book 1 April 2006
By Dean Welch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In short, I think volumes I and II of "String Theory" are the best books on string theory available. Presumably any serious student of string theory will study them both. The writing style is clear, physical considerations are at the forefront, the selection of topics is excellent and the treatment is as up-to-date as any I'm aware of.

Volume I covers the bosonic string. Of course this doesn't provide a realistic model for our universe, but understanding it forms the foundation of the study of more realistic string theories.

The first chapter provides the physical motivation for string theory. A brief description of some current unsolved problems in physics, and how string theory may resolve them, is given. Most notably this includes not only providing a quantum theory of gravity, but also providing a grand unified theory. A brief outline of techniques used throughout the book is given. These are covered in more detail as the book develops and include: the Polyakov action (how to get it from the Nambu-Goto form and why it's more useful), the Polyakov action symmetries, string theory as a two-dimensional quantum field theory, string boundary conditions, the string spectra, supersymmetry (worldsheet and spacetime) and the critical dimension. This is an excellent introduction and nicely sets the stage for the rest of the book.

The next chapter presents conformal field theory. It's also an excellent introduction. In particular covering conformal field theory with anticommuting fields. The Virasoro algebra is also derived. He could have covered these conformal field theory concepts as they came up, but I liked having them in one central location early in the book.

Strings take center stage again in the following chapter as the Polyakov path integral is examined in great detail. Among the results are a calculation of the critical dimension and the recovery of general relativity in the low energy limit of string theory. These are just a couple of the interesting results, there is much more in this chapter.

The following chapters quantize the string, calculate the string spectrum, derive the S-matrix, calculate tree level scattering amplitudes and calculate one-loop amplitudes (higher order amplitudes are covered in the final chapter). One of many things that stand out is his discussion of divergences. He describes the difference between infrared and ultraviolet divergences. After showing ultraviolet divergences are absent in string theory he comments on how the mechanisms that remove them is different for open and closed strings. This is just one example of how physical concepts are kept at the forefront.

The chapter on compactification covers more than just the basics such as (D - 4) dimensions must be compactified and this gives rise to some extra gauge fields. Orbifolds are introduced in this chapter. It also covers T-duality, one of the important (and unexpected) symmetries of string theories. D-branes are also introduced (D-branes are covered in more detail in volume II), obviously this is an important concept in string theory. I was happy to see such important concepts introduced so quickly.

In short, this is a great book. Even with only light coverage of supersymmetry (this is covered in detail in volume II) many interesting and up-to-date topics are presented. Clearly the author put a lot of time into thinking about how to make a difficult subject as approachable as possible. Throughout the book he anticipates questions the reader may have, or maybe should have, and addresses them.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95c25eb8) out of 5 stars Very thorough and upto date 22 Aug. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The two volumes introduce many important recent developments in string theory not covered in Green, Schwarz & Witten's Superstring text such as D-branes, dualities, etc. However, I found GSW's treatment of basic materials easier to follow because the authors try to explain things intuitively. Although many physical insight in Polchinski's book is sacrificed, it makes up for them through completeness and mathematical rigor. However, I highly recommend that you read Di Francesco et al's conformal field theory book (read chapters 3-7, 10 and 12-13) to get a better feel for stuff like operator state mapping, OPE's, Virasoro algebra, vertex operators, etc. Of course a good course in QFT, GR and some basic familiarity with SUSY, Rep. theory, & some algebraic topology are probably a prereq although Polchinski claims the book is pretty much self-contained. Lastly, the book suffers a little from numerous typos (atleast the 1st edition) but corrections are updated frequently on a ucsb website address.
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