Guide to Feynman Diagrams in the Many-Body Problem


Until this book, most treatments of this topic were inaccessible to nonspecialists. A superb introduction to important areas of modern physics, it covers Feynman diagrams, quasi particles, Fermi systems at finite temperature, superconductivity, vacuum amplitude, Dyson's equation, ladder approximation, and much more. "A great delight to read." — Physics Today. 1974 edition.
Read More Show Less
... See more details below
$13.62 price
(Save 31%)$19.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (18) from $5.98   
  • New (10) from $10.68   
  • Used (8) from $0.00   
A Guide to Feynman Diagrams in the Many-Body Problem

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.49 price
(Save 42%)$19.95 List Price


Until this book, most treatments of this topic were inaccessible to nonspecialists. A superb introduction to important areas of modern physics, it covers Feynman diagrams, quasi particles, Fermi systems at finite temperature, superconductivity, vacuum amplitude, Dyson's equation, ladder approximation, and much more. "A great delight to read." — Physics Today. 1974 edition.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486670478
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 6/1/1992
  • Series: Dover Books on Physics Series
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 429
  • Sales rank: 1,392,332
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Read an Excerpt

A Guide to Feynman Diagrams in the Many-Body Problem

By Richard D. Mattuck

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1976 McGraw-Hill, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-13164-1


Feynman Diagrams, or how to Solve the Many-Body Problem by means of Pictures

1.1 Propagators—the heroes of the many-body problem

We have seen that many-body systems consisting of strongly interacting real particles can often be described as if they were composed of weakly interacting fictitious particles: quasi particles and collective excitations. The question now is, how can we calculate the properties of these fictitious particles—for example, the effective mass and lifetime of quasi particles? There are various ways of doing this (see appendix A but the hero roles in the treatment of the many-body problem are played by quantum field theoretical quantities known as Green's functions or propagators. These are essentially a generalization of the ordinary, familiar undergraduate Green's function. They come in all sizes and shapes—one particle, two particle, no particle, advanced, retarded, causal, zero temperature, finite temperature—an assortment to suit every situation and taste.

There are three reasons for the immense popularity propagators are enjoying these days. First of all, they yield in a direct way the most important physical properties of the system. Secondly, they have a simple physical interpretation. Thirdly, they can be calculated in a way which is highly systematic and 'automatic' and which appeals to one's physical intuition.

The idea behind the propagator method is this: the detailed description of a many-body system requires in the classical case the position of each particle as a function of time, r1(t), r2 (t), ..., rN, (t), or in the quantum case, the time-dependent wave function of the whole system, Ψ (r1 · r2, ..., rN, t). A glance at Fig. 0.2B shows that this is an extremely complicated business. Fortunately, it turns out that in order to find the important physical properties of a system it is not necessary to know the detailed behaviour of each particle in the system, but rather just the average behaviour of one or two typical particles. The quantities which describe this average behaviour are the one-particle propagator and two-particle propagator respectively, and physical properties may be calculated directly from them.

Consider the one-particle propagator first. It is defined as follows: We put a particle into the interacting system at point r1 at time t1 and let it move through the system colliding with the other particles for a while (i.e., let it 'propagate' through the system). Then the one-particle propagator is the probability (or in quantum systems, the probability amplitude—see §3.1) that the particle will be observed at the point r2 at time t2. (Note that instead of putting the particle in at a definite point, it is sometimes more convenient to put it in with definite momentum, say p1, and observe it later with momentum p2.) The single-particle propagator yields directly the energies and lifetimes of quasi particles. It also gives the momentum distribution, spin and particle density and can be used to calculate the ground state energy.

Similarly, the two-particle propagator is the probability amplitude for observing one particle at r2, t2 and another at r4, t4 if one was put into the system at r1, t1 and another at r3, t3 (see Fig. 0.2B). This also has a wide variety of talents, giving directly the energies and lifetimes of collective excitations, as well as the magnetic susceptibility, electrical conductivity, and a host of other non-equilibrium properties.

There is also another useful quantity, the 'no-particle propagator' or so-called 'vacuum amplitude' defined thus: We put no particle into the system at time t1, let the particles in the system interact with each other from t1 to t2, then ask for the probability amplitude that no particles emerge from the system at time t2. This may be used to calculate the ground state energy and the grand partition function, from which all equilibrium properties of the system may be determined.

1.2 Calculating propagators by Feynman diagrams: the drunken man propagator

There are two different methods available for calculating propagators. One is to solve the chain of differential equations they satisfy—this method is discussed briefly in appendix M. The other is to expand the propagator in an infinite series and evaluate the series approximately. This can be carried out in a general, systematic, and picturesque way with the aid of Feynman diagrams.

Just to get an idea of what these diagrams are, consider the following simple example (see Fig. 1.1). A man who has had too much to drink, leaves a party at point 1 and on the way to his home at point 2, he can stop off at one or more bars—Alice's Bar (A), Bardot Bar (B), Club Six Bar (C), ..., etc. He can wind up either at his own home 2, or at any one of his friends' apartments, 3, 4, etc. We ask for the probability, P (2,1), that he gets home. This probability, which is just the propagator here (with time omitted for simplicity), is the sum of the probabilities for all the different ways he can propagate from 1 to 2 interacting with the various bars.

The first way he can propagate is 'freely' from 1 to 2, i.e., without stopping at a bar. Call the probability for this free propagation P0 (2,1).

The second way he can propagate is to go freely from 1 to bar A (the probability for this is P0(A, 1)), then stop off at bar A for a drink (call the probability for this P (A)), then go freely from A to 2 (probability=P0(2, A)). Assume for simplicity that the three processes here are independent. Then the total probability for this second way is the product of the probabilities for each process taken separately, i.e., P0(A, 1) × P (A) × P0(2, A). (This is like the case in coin-tossing: since each toss is independent, the probability of first tossing a head, then a tail, equals the probability of tossing a head times the probability of tossing a tail.)

The third way he can propagate is from 1 to B to 2, with probability P0(B, 1)P (B)P0 (2, B). Or he could go from 1 to C to 2, etc., or from 1 to A to B to 2, or from 1 to A, come out of A, go back into A, then go to 2, and so on. The total probability, P (2,1) is then given by the sum of the probabilities for each way, i.e., the infinite series:


This is an example of a 'perturbation series', since each interaction with a bar 'perturbs' the free propagation of the drunken man.

Now, such a series is a complicated thing to look at. To make it easier to read, we follow the journal 'Classic Comics' where difficult literary classics are translated into picture form. Let us make a 'picture dictionary' to associate diagrams with the various probabilities as in Table 1.1. Using this dictionary, series (1.1) can be drawn thus:


Since, by dictionary Table 1.1, each diagram element stands for a factor, series (1.2) is completely equivalent to (1.1). However it has the great advantage that it also reveals the physical meaning of the series, giving us a 'map' which helps us to keep track of all the sequences of interactions with bars which the drunken man can have in going from 1 to 2.

The series may be evaluated approximately by selecting the most important types of terms in it and summing them to infinity. This is called partial summation. For example, suppose the man is in love with Alice, so that P (A) is large, and all the other P (X)'s are small. Then Alice's bar diagrams will dominate, and the series (1.2) may be approximated by a sum over just repeated interactions with Alice's Bar:


Using the above dictionary, this can be translated into functions:


Assume for simplicity that all P0(s, r) are equal to the same number, c, i.e., P0(2, 1)=P0(2, A) = P0(A, 1)=P0(A, A) = c. Then series (1.4) becomes


The series in brackets is geometric and can be summed exactly to yield 1/(1 - cP(A)), so that

P(2, 1) = c × (1/1 - CP(A)) = 1/c-1 - P(A) (1.6)

which is the solution for the propagator in this case.

Note that since each diagram element stands for a factor, we could have done calculation (1.5), (1.6) completely diagrammatically:


The partial summation method is extremely useful in dealing with the strong interactions between particles in the many-body problem, and it is the basic method which will be used throughout this book.

1.3 Propagator for single electron moving through a metal

The example here is just like the previous one, except that instead of a propagating drunken man interacting with various bars, we have a propagating electron interacting with various ions in a metal. A metal consists of a set of positively charged ions arranged so they form a regular lattice, as in Fig. 0.13A or a lattice with some irregularities, as in Fig. 0.13B. An electron interacts with these ions by means of the Coulomb force. The single particle propagator here is the sum of the quantum mechanical probability amplitudes (see §3.1) for all the possible ways the electron can propagate from point r1 in the crystal at time t1, to point r2 at time t2, interacting with the various ions on the way. These are: (1) freely, without interaction; (2) freely from r1, t1 (= '1' for short) to the ion at rA at time tA, interaction with this ion, then free propagation from the ion to point 2; (3) from 1 to ion B, interaction at B, then from B to 2, etc. Or we could have the routes 1-A-A-2, 1-A-B-2, etc. We can now use the dictionary in Table 1.1 to translate this into diagrams, provided the following changes are made: change 'probability' to 'probability amplitude', and change the meaning of the circle with an X to 'probability amplitude for an interaction with the ion at X'. When this is done, the series for the propagator can be translated immediately into exactly the same diagrams as in the drunken man case! That is, (1.2) is also the propagator for an electron in a metal, provided that we just use a quantum dictionary to translate the lines and circles into functions. The series can be partially summed, and from the resulting propagator we obtain immediately the energy of the electron moving in the field of the ions.

1.4 Single-particle propagator for system of many interacting particles

We will now indicate in a qualitative way how the single-particle propagator may be calculated in a system of many interacting particles. The argument is general, but we may think in terms of the electron gas as illustration. The propagator will be the sum of the probability amplitudes for all the different ways the particle can travel through the system from r1, t1 to r2, t2. First we have free propagation without interaction. Another thing which can happen is shown in the 'movie', Fig. 1.2, which depicts a 'second-order' propagation process (i.e., a process with two interactions). (It should be mentioned here that unlike the drunken man case, the processes involved in Fig. 1.2 are not real physical processes, but rather 'virtual' or 'quasi physical', since they do not conserve energy, and they may violate the Pauli exclusion principle. The reason for this is that, as we shall see later on, the sequence in Fig. 1.2 (or the corresponding diagram (1.9)) is simply a convenient and picturesque way of describing a certain second-order term which appears in the perturbation expansion of the propagator. Hence Fig. 1.2 and diagram (1.9) are in reality mathematical expressions so we have to be careful not to push their physical interpretation too far (see §4.6).)

To represent this sequence of events diagrammatically, let us imagine that time increases in the upward-going direction and we use the following diagram elements:


(Note that the hole is drawn as a particle moving backward in time. The reason for this is in §4.2.) Then the probability amplitude for the above sequence of events can be represented by the diagram


The piece of diagram:


is called a 'self-energy part' because it shows the particle interacting with itself via the particle-hole pair it created in the many-body medium. Diagram (1.9) may be evaluated by writing a free propagator factor for each directed line, and an amplitude factor for each wiggly line (see Chapter 4, Table 4.3), analogous to the drunken man case.

Another sequence of events which can occur involves only one interaction (i.e., a 'first-order' process). It is a quick-change act in which the incoming electron at point r interacts with another electron at point r' and changes place with it. This is analogous to billiard ball 1 striking billiard ball 2 and transferring all its momentum to 2. The first-order process and its analogy are shown in Fig. 1.3. The sequence may be drawn diagrammatically


The diagrams in (1.8)–(1.11) are called Feynman diagrams after their inventor, Richard P. Feynman who employed them in his Nobel prize-winning work on quantum electrodynamics. They are used extensively in elementary particle physics.

The total single particle propagator is the sum of the amplitudes for all possible ways the particle can propagate through the system. This will include the above processes, repetitions of them, plus an infinite number of others. Thus we find


(Note: the interpretation of the 'bubble' diagram, just after the open oyster, will be discussed in chapter 4.)

We can see the direct connection between the one-particle propagator and the quasi particle by looking at all the diagrams at a particular time to (dashed line):


At to, we see that various situations may exist: there may be just the bare particle (a), or there may exist two particles plus one hole created by the second-order sequence (c), or three particles plus two holes in (d), etc. That is, the diagrams show all the configurations of particles and holes which may be kicked up by the bare particle as it churns through the many-body system. If we now compare with the picture of the quasi particle in Fig. 0.10, we see that the diagrams reveal the content of the ever-changing cloud of particles and holes surrounding the bare particle and converting it into a quasi particle.


Excerpted from A Guide to Feynman Diagrams in the Many-Body Problem by Richard D. Mattuck. Copyright © 1976 McGraw-Hill, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface to second edition
Preface to first edition.
0. The Many-Body Problem- for Everybody
  0.0 What the many-body problem is about
  0.1 Simple example of non-interacting fictitious bodies
  0.2 Quasi particles and quasi horses
  0.3 Collective excitations
1. "Feynman Diagrams, or how to Solve the Many-Body Problem by means of Pictures "
  1.1 Propagators-the heroes of the many-body problem
  1.2 Calculating propagators by Feynman diagrams: the drunken man propagator
  1.3 Propagator for single electron moving through a metal
  1.4 Single-particle propagator for system of many interacting particles
  1.5 The two-particle propagator and the particle-hole propagator
  1.6 The no-particle propagator ('vacuum amplitude')
2. Classical Quasi Particles and the Pinball Propagator
  2.1 Physical picture of quasi particle
  2.2 The classical quasi particle propagator
  2.3 Calculation of the propagator by means of diagrams
3. Quantum Quasi Particles and the Quantum Pinball Propagator
  3.1 The quantum mechanical propagator
  3.2 The quantum pinball game
  3.3 Disappearance of disagreeable divergences
  3.4 Where the diagram expansion of the propagator really comes from
  3.5 Energy and lifetime of an electron in an impure metal
4. Quasi Particles in Fermi Systems
  4.1 Propagator method in many-body systems
  4.2 Non-interacting Fermi system in external potential; particle-hole picture
  4.3 A primer of occupation number formalism (second quantization)
  4.4 Propagator for non-interacting Fermi system in external perturbing potential
  4.5 Interacting Fermi system
  4.6 The 'quasi-physical' nature of Feynman diagrams
  4.7 Hartree and Hartree-Fock quasi particles
  4.8 Hartree-Fock quasi particles in nuclear matter
  4.9 "Quasi particles in the electron gas, and the random phase approximation "
5. Ground State Energy and the Vacuum Amplitude or 'No-particle Propagator'
  5.1 Meaning of the vacuum amplitude.
  5.2 The pinball machine vacuum amplitude
  5.3 Quantum vacuum amplitude for one-particle system
  5.4 Linked cluster theorem for one-particle system
  5.5 Finding the ground state energy in one-particle system.
  5.6 The many-body case
6. Bird's-Eye View of Diagram Methods in the Many-Body Problem
7. Occupation Number Formalism (Second Quantization)
  7.1 The advantages of occupation number formalism
  7.2 Many-body wave function in occupation number formalism
  7.3 Operators in occupation number formalism
  7.4 Hamiltonian and Schrödinger equation in occupation number formalism
  7.5 Particle-hole formalism
  7.6 Occupation number formalism based on single-particle position eigenstates
  7.7 Bosons
8. More about Quasi Particles
  8.1 Introduction
  8.2 A soluble fermion system: the pure Hartree model
  8.3 Crude calculation of quasi particle lifetime
  8.4 General form of quasi particle propagator
9. The Single-Particle Propagator Re-visited
  9.1 Second quantization and the propagator
  9.2 Mathematical expression for the single-particle Green's function propagator.
  9.3 Spectral density function
  9.4 Derivation of the propagator expansion in the many-body case
  9.5 Topology of diagrams
  9.6 Diagram rules for single-particle propagator
  9.7 "Modified propagator formalism using chemical potential, µ "
  9.8 Beyond Hartree-Fock: the single pair-bubble approximation
10. "Dyson's Equation, Renormalization, RPA and Ladder Approximations "
  10.1 General types of partial sums
  10.2 Dyson's equation
  10.3 Quasi particles in low-density Fermi system (ladder approximation)
  10.4 Quasi particles in high-density electron gas (random phase approximation)
  10.5 The general 'dressed' or 'effective' interaction
  10.6 The scattering amplitude
  10.7 Evaluation of the pair bubble; Friedel oscillations
11. Self-Consistent Renormalization and the Existence of the Fermi Surface
  11.1 "Dressed particle and hole lines, or 'clothed skeletons' "
  11.2 Existence of quasi particles when the perturbation expansion is valid
  11.3 Existence of the Fermi surface in an interacting system.
  11.4 Dressed vertices
12. Ground State Energy of Electron Gas and Nuclear Matter
  12.1 Review
  12.2 Diagrams for the ground state energy
  12.3 Ground state energy of high-density electron gas: theory of Gell-Mann and Brueckner
  12.4 Brief view of Brueckner theory of nuclear matter
13. Collective Excitations and the Two-Particle Propagator
  13.1 Introduction
  13.2 The two-particle Green's function propagator
  13.3 Polarization ('density fluctuation') propagator
  13.4 Retarded polarization propagator and linear response
  13.5 The collective excitation propagator
  13.6 Plasmons and quasi plasmons
  13.7 Expressing the two-particle propagator in terms of the scattering amplitude
14. Fermi Systems at Finite Temperature
  14.1 Generalization of the T = 0 case
  14.2 Statistical mechanics in occupation number formalism
  14.3 The finite temperature propagator
  14.4 The finite temperature vacuum amplitude
  14.5 The pair-bubble at finite temperature
15. Diagram Methods in Superconductivity
  15.1 Introduction
  15.2 Hamiltonian for coupled electron-phonon system.
  15.3 Short review of BCS theory
  15.4 Breakdown of the perturbation expansion in a superconductor
  15.5 A brief look at Nambu formalism
  15.6 Treatment of retardation effects by Nambu formalism
  15.7 Transition temperature of a superconductor
16. Phonons From a Many-Body Viewpoint (Reprint)
17. Quantum Field Theory of Phase Transitions in Fermi Systems
  17.1 Introduction
  17.2 Qualitative theory of phase transitions
  17.3 Anomalous propagators and the breakdown of the perturbation series in the condensed phase.
  17.4 The generalized matrix propagator
  17.5 Application to ferromagnetic phase in system with d-function interaction.
  17.6 I Divergence of the two-particle propagator and scattering amplitude at the transition point
18. Feynman Diagrams in the Kondo Problem
  18.1 Introduction
  18.2 Second-order (Born) approximation.
  18.3 Parquet approximation with bare propagators.
  18.4 Self-consistently renormalized s-electrons
  18.5 Strong-coupling approximation with self-consistently renormalized pseudofermions and vertices.
19. The Renormalization Group
  19.1 Introduction
  19.2 Review of effective interaction in the high-density electron gas
  19.3 Renormalization group for interaction propagators in the high-density electron gas.
  19.4 Transforming from one transformed quantity to another: the functional equation of the renormaIization group
  19.5 Lie equation for the renormalization group
  19.6 Solution of the Lie equation
  A Finding fictitious particles with the canonical transformation.
  A. Dirac formalism
  B. "The time development operator, U(t) . "
  C. Finding the ground state energy from the vacuum amplitude.
  D. "The u(t) operator and its expansion, "
  E. Expansion of the single-particle propagator and vacuum amplitude
  F. Evaluating matrix elements by Wick's theorem.
  G. Derivation of the graphical expansion for propagator and vacuum
  H. The spectral density function
  I. How the id factor is used
  J. Electron propagator in normal electron-phonon system
  K. Spin wave functions.
  L. Sunmary of different kinds of propagators and their spectral representations and analytic properties. .
  M. The decoupled equations of motion for the Green's function expressed as a partial sum of Feyman diagrams
  N. The reduced graph expansion
  Answers to Exercises
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)