Feynman Diagram
Feynman diagrams are pictorial representations of the mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic particles. The scheme is named for its inventor, Nobel Prizewinning American physicist Richard Feynman, and was first introduced in 1948. The interaction of subatomic particles can be complex and difficult to understand intuitively, and the Feynman diagrams allow for a simple visualization of what would otherwise be a rather arcane and abstract formula. As David Kaiser writes, "since the middle of the 20th century, theoretical physicists have increasingly turned to this tool to help them undertake critical calculations," and as such "Feynman diagrams have revolutionized nearly every aspect of theoretical physics". While the diagrams are applied primarily to quantum field theory, they can also be used in other fields, such as solidstate theory.
The calculation of probability amplitudes in theoretical particle physics requires the use of rather large and complicated integrals over a large number of variables. These integrals do, however, have a regular structure, and may be represented graphically as Feynman diagrams. A Feynman diagram is a contribution of a particular class of particle paths, which join and split as described by the diagram. More precisely, and technically, a Feynman diagram is a graphical representation of a perturbative contribution to the transition amplitude or correlation function of a quantum mechanical or statistical field theory. Within the canonical formulation of quantum field theory, a Feynman diagram represents a term in the Wick's expansion of the perturbative Smatrix. Alternatively, the path integral formulation of quantum field theory represents the transition amplitude as a weighted sum of all possible histories of the system from the initial to the final state, in terms of either particles or fields. The transition amplitude is then given as the matrix element of the Smatrix between the initial and the final states of the quantum system.
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Read more about Feynman Diagram: Motivation and History, Representation of Physical Reality, Particlepath Interpretation, Description, Canonical Quantization Formulation, Path Integral Formulation, ParticlePath Representation, Nonperturbative Effects, In Popular Culture
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