Differenze di vedute fra fisici e matematici by

24 Nov

Since its inception in Richard Feynman‘s 1942 doctoral thesis, the path integral has been a physicist’s dream and a mathematician’s nightmare. To a physicist, the path integral provides a powerful and intuitive way to understand quantum mechanics, building on the simple idea that quantum physics is fundamentally a theory of superposition and interference of probability amplitudes. The “sum over histories” offers a framework for tackling problems ranging from Feynman diagrams to lattice chromodynamics, from quantum cosmology to superfluid vortices to stock-option pricing. To a mathematician, the path integral is at best an ill-defined formal expression. It is some sort of vaguely integral-like object involving a “sum” over a badly specified collection of functions, having an undefined measure, and whose value is apparently determined by a group of unclear and perhaps incompatible limits that may or may not yield finite answers.

Steven Carlip (Physics Today, October 2008)

Questo è un bellissimo esempio di come un matematico ed un fisico possano avere prospettive completamente diverse (vedi anche http://xkcd.com/435/).

n.b. Sono troppo pigro per tradurlo (e comunque tutti quelli che potrebbero trovarlo interessante conoscono l’inglese).

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