Group Theory and Symmetries in Physics


Symmetries offer beautiful explanations for many otherwise incomprehensible physical phenomena in nature. Group theory is the underlying mathematical framework for studying symmetries, with far-reaching applications in many areas of physics, including solid-state physics, atomic and molecular physics, gravitational physics, and particle physics. We will discuss many of the fascinating mathematical aspects of group theory while highlighting its physics applications. The following topics will be covered: general properties of groups (definition, subgroups and cosets, quotient group, homo- and iso-morphism), representation theory (general group actions, direct sums and tensor products, Wigner-Eckart theorem, Young tablelaux), and discrete groups (cyclicity, characters, examples), Lie groups and Lie algebra (Cartan-Weyl basis, roots and weights, Dynkin diagrams, Casimir operators, Clebsch-Gordan coefficients, classification of simple Lie algebras), space-time symmetries (translation and rotation, Lorentz and Poincare groups, conformal symmetry, supersymmetry and superalgebra), and gauge symmetries (Abelian and non-Abelian, Standard Model, Grand Unified Theories). Interested undergraduates who have taken Physics 217 or similar can register for this course with prior approval.
Course Attributes:

Section 01

Group Theory and Symmetries in Physics
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