Reading Polchinski: Notes on string theory – First entry, including a list of supplementary texts

As part of my Scattering Amplitudes blog, I would like to begin a project of sharing and explaining my own notes on string theory. These notes have a bit of a story. They were developed while self-studying string theory as a first-year undergraduate student, prior to my formal academic acceleration to post-graduate school in the same year. They are a product of a rigorous examination and review, organised around the central motivation to rederive the whole of bosonic and then superstring theory from first principles, or, where appropriate, at least from as close to first principles as possible.

The set of notes uploaded on this blog will, I suspect, be tailored to fit a more ‘blog friendly’ format. I cannot profess to be certain of the intended reader at this time, other than I would like to try to present my notebooks in a pedagogical way that also does not dilute the maths/physics. However vague sounding this may be, over time I am sure the structure of the notes will clarify.

As a first entry it is worth mentioning that my string theory notes, which I will upload to this blog over time, my also be updated from time to time to take on new views or clarified understanding. Such is the method of reason.

I should also like to add that the main structure on which my notes are based are primarily focused on reading Joseph Polchinski’s much celebrated two-volume text, ‘String Theory‘. That is to say, Polchinski is my default – the scaffold on which my studies are based. But while Polchinski’s approach defines the essential structure to my notes, the following list of supplementary texts have also proved useful. Various ideas, motivations and pedagogical approaches have been drawn from this list of texts, sometimes inspired word-for-word. This list of texts includes (in order of last name):

Katrin Becker, Melanie Becker, John H. Schwarz. (2006). ‘String Theory and M-Theory: A Modern Introduction‘.

Michael Dine. (2007). ‘Supersymmetry and String Theory: Beyond the Standard Model‘.

Michael B. Green, John H. Schwarz, and Edward Witten. (1987). ‘Superstring Theory‘ (Volume 1 and 2).

David Tong. (2009). ‘String Theory‘ [lecture notes].

Timo Weigand. (2015/16). ‘Introduction to String Theory‘ [lecture notes].

Kevin Wray. (2009). ‘An Introduction to String Theory’ [lecture notes].

Barton Zwiebach. (2009). ‘A First Course in String Theory‘.

I am not yet an expert in string theory. Perhaps one day that may be the case, as it seems increasingly clear that pure string theory is my future. For now, I am merely a humble student of the subject and thus humble correspondent. My hope is that by sharing these notes (and updating them over time, where necessary) another individual may find use in them in their own learning.

I close with one final comment. String theory is currently one of my favourite subjects, along with quantum field theory. To any readers who find interest, my hope is that you enjoy the maths and physics as much as I. Thanks for reading.

*Edited 20/04/19.