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Oxford University Press
Gauging What's Real: The Conceptual Foundations of Contemporary Gauge Theories

Gauging What's Real: The Conceptual Foundations of Contemporary Gauge Theories

by Richard Healey


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Gauge theories have provided our most successful representations of the fundamental forces of nature. How, though, do such representations work? Interpretations of gauge theory aim to answer this question. Through understanding how a gauge theory's representations work, we are able to say what kind of world our gauge theories reveal to us.

A gauge theory's representations are mathematical structures. These may be transformed among themselves while certain features remain the same. Do the representations related by such a gauge transformation merely offer alternative ways of representing the very same situation? If so, then gauge symmetry is a purely formal property since it reflects no corresponding symmetry in nature.

Gauging What's Real describes the representations provided by gauge theories in both classical and quantum physics. Richard Healey defends the thesis that gauge transformations are purely formal symmetries of almost all the classes of representations provided by each of our theories of fundamental forces. He argues that evidence for classical gauge theories of forces (other than gravity) gives us reason to believe that loops rather than points are the locations of fundamental properties. In addition to exploring the prospects of extending this conclusion to the quantum gauge theories of the Standard Model of elementary particle physics, Healey assesses the difficulties faced by attempts to base such ontological conclusions on the success of these theories.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199576937
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 11/16/2009
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Richard Healey is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 What is a Gauge Theory?
Chapter 2 The Aharonov-Bohm E¤ect
Chapter 3 Classical Gauge Theories
Chapter 4 Interpreting Classical Gauge Theories
Chapter 5 Quantized Yang-Mills Gauge Theories
Chapter 6 The Empirical Import of Gauge Symmetry
Chapter 7 Loop Representations
Chapter 8 Interpreting Quantized Yang-Mills Gauge Theories
Chapter 9 Conclusions
1. What is a Gauge Theory?
2. The Aharonov-Bohm E¤ect
3. Classical Gauge Theories
4. Interpreting Classical Gauge Theories
5. Quantized Yang-Mills Gauge Theories
6. The Empirical Import of Gauge Symmetry
7. Loop Representations
8. Interpreting Quantized Yang-Mills Gauge Theories
9. Conclusions

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