Roy Glauber 1925-2018: Notes on QFT

I saw today that Roy Glauber has passed away, at the age of 93. John Preskill speculates that Glauber was the last living member of the wartime T division at Los Alamos.

My only interaction with him was that he was the instructor for the first quantum field theory course I took, at Harvard during the 1976-77 academic year. The course was my first exposure to quantum field theory, and was taught from what seemed then (at the time of the advent of gauge theories and wide use of the path integral method) a rather stodgy point of view. It’s one however that I have later in life come to appreciate more.

I just located the binder of notes I kept from the class and plan to look over them. It occurred to me that if I want to look at these on vacation, the thing to do is to scan them. So, I just did this, and am making the scans available here in case others are interested:

Roy Glauber: Quantum Field Theory notes 1976-77

Roy Glauber: Quantum Field Theory problems and solutions 1976-77

Update: The New York Times has an obituary here.

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13 Responses to Roy Glauber 1925-2018: Notes on QFT

  1. Mark Hillery says:

    I am very sorry to hear this. As someone who has worked in quantum optics, and first encountered it by reading some of Roy’s papers, I can say that his founding contributions were something that all of us learned, and they formed the framework for much of our thinking about the field. His papers were masterpieces of originality and clarity. Lesser known to those outside the field was his talent as an after-dinner speaker at conferences. He had the comic timing and manner of Jack Benny (OK, I am dating myself here). He will be very much missed.

  2. Si MohOumhand says:

    Dear Peter,

    Thank you for posting the notes. They are very neat. I read in your book “Not Even Wrong” that at some point you asked Witten to explain to you things in quantum field theory. Was it about these notes. If yes, do you remember which chapter?

  3. Peter Woit says:

    Si MohOumhand,

    That was a year or two later, when for a semester I had an independent reading course with Witten (who was a newly arrived postdoc). Witten helped me go through basics of gauge theories, doing perturbative calculations and renormalization (his Ph.D. thesis at Princeton had been on perturbative QCD calculations).

    After Glauber’s course, the next year I sat in on Coleman’s QFT class. A published version of Coleman’s class notes is supposed to appear soon, which I’m looking forward to. I think my last year at Harvard I sat in on or took a more advanced graduate course from Weinberg on gauge theories (something like volume II of his QFT book). Looking back on those days, I had the great luck to get to start learning the subject from the very best.

  4. Vhman says:

    Coleman’s notes are already on Amazon.

  5. Peter Woit says:

    Yes, but for delivery in a couple weeks. I hear they’re being printed and shipped around now, so should be available starting in a week or two. I’ll write something about them when I get back from vacation, hope to have a copy by then.

  6. David Appell says:

    Nice and thoughtful jobs with the notes, Peter. Thanks.

  7. DRLunsford says:

    I thought his papers were very clearly written. RIP


  8. David Derbes says:

    I’m one of the editors (Brian Hill, Bryan Gin-ge Chen, Yuan-Sen Ting, Richard Sohn and David Griffiths are the others, names by chronological involvement) of the Coleman QFT notes. Peter was of huge help in getting the Coleman notes into publishable form. Early on I corresponded with him about the project and by return email came scans of his own notes of Coleman’s class. These were invaluable, particularly for the second semester. (The bulk of the text is from transcriptions of the videotapes of Coleman’s lectures, on line at Harvard’s physics web site, but we couldn’t have done it without other records of the lectures.) You can get the kindle edition today but I think the physical books won’t be at Amazon till January 9th or thereabouts (but they exist; World Scientific air expressed a copy to me on November 12). I’m nonplussed by various “used” copies for sale; I have my doubts about the legitimacy of these. You can get an earlier version of the first semester notes (originally by Brian Hill; LaTeX’d by Yuan-Sen Ting and Bryan Gin-ge Chen) today for free at the arXiv. The book is about 1200 pages, including a very nice foreword by David Kaiser (who also did one for the reissue of Misner, Thorne and Wheeler), and about 72 problems and solutions (some are old exam questions). We tried to do a good job, but the readers will be the judge of that. Incidentally, all author royalties are going to Diana Coleman, Sidney’s widow; we all worked for free. It took five years.

  9. Pascal says:

    Another aspect of Glauber’s work is highlighted here:

  10. Anonyrat says:

    The store person at Barnes and Noble said that the Coleman QFT book is a “print on demand” book and so I’d best order it online.

  11. Peter Woit says:

    As far as I know copies are being printed in the usual way by World Scientific, which is selling them on their website. I’d be very wary of any “printed on demand” version. People should be aware that there’s an industry devoted to grabbing pdfs from various places and marketing them as printed on demand books.

  12. Mark says:

    I just received my beautiful hardcover version (World Scientific) from Amazon UK (which I preordered quite a while ago) – It is a very heavy book and beautifully printed, and I am glad that I got the more expensive hardcover version – Amazon was nice and did refund the price increase from the time I ordered.

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