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Title: On a derivation of the Boltzmann equation in Quantum Field Theory
Author: Leiler, Gregor
ISNI:       0000 0004 2750 6968
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2010
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The Boltzmann equation (BE) is a commonly used tool for the study of non-equilibrium many particle systems. It has been introduced in 1872 by Ludwig Boltzmann and has been widely generalized throughout the years. Today it is commonly used in physical applications, from the study of ordinary fluids to problems in particle Cosmology where Quantum Field Theoretical techniques are essential. Despite its numerous experimental successes, the conceptual basis of the BE is not entirely clear. For instance, it is well known that it is not a fundamental equation of physics like, say, the Heisenberg equation (HE). A natural question then arises whether it is possible to derive the BE from physical first principles, i.e. the Heisenberg equation in Quantum Field Theory. In this work we attempted to answer this question and succeeded in deriving the BE from the HE, thus further clarifying its conceptual status. In particular, the results we have obtained are as follows. Firstly, we establish the non-perturbative validity of what we call the "pre-Boltzmann equation". The crucial point here is that this latter equation is equivalent to the Heisenberg equation. Secondly, we proceed to consider various limits of the pre-Boltzmann equation, namly the "low density" and the "weak coupling" limits, to obtain two equations that can be considered as generalizations of the BE. These limits are always taken together with the "long time" limit, which allows us to interpret the BE as an appropriate long time limit of the HE. The generalization we obtain consists in additional "correction" terms to the usual Boltzmann collision factor, and can be associated to multiple particle scattering. Unlike the pre-Boltzmann equation, these latter results are only valid pertubatively. Finally, we briefly consider the possibility to extend these results beyond said limits and outline some important aspects in this case.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available