Kurt Symanzik

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Kurt Symanzik (born November 23, 1923 in Lyck , East Prussia , † October 25, 1983 in Hamburg ) was a German physicist who dealt with quantum field theory (QFT).

life and work

Symanzik grew up in Königsberg i. Pr. And began his physics studies in 1946 at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich , but shortly afterwards switched to Werner Heisenberg at the Georg August University of Göttingen . He started a collaboration with fellow students Wolfhart Zimmermann and Harry Lehmann , which in the 1950s led to important formalisms of a mathematically stricter version of the quantum field theory ( Lehmann-Symanzik-Zimmermann theory , LSZ theory for short , it expresses scattering amplitudes through vacuum expectation values ​​of the field operators) . The three were therefore later apostrophized by Wolfgang Pauli as a "field association".

In 1954 he received his doctorate from Heisenberg with the influential work The Schwinger functional in quantum field theory , referring to the recently published epochal work by Julian Seymour Schwinger .

From 1955 to 1962 he worked a. a. at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and at CERN (where he worked, inter alia, on dispersion relations ) before accepting a professorship at the Courant Institute in New York City in 1962 . Here he developed (also following Schwinger's ideas) the Euclidean quantum field theory , that is, a formal transformation from Minkowski space into Euclidean space, which makes the connections between QFT and statistical mechanics clear. Vacuum expectation values ​​of operators correspond to correlation functions, etc. These ideas of “ constructive QFT ” later became standard in lattice scale theories.

In 1968 he switched to the DESY in Hamburg as a senior scientist and investigated the mathematical background for the then newly discovered scaling behavior of quantum field theories ( Callan-Symanzik equation ) and spontaneous symmetry breaking in QFT. In doing so, he took up the renormalization group ideas of Kenneth Wilson . In particular, he gave the first models for asymptotic freedom , which were soon proven in quantum chromodynamics by David Gross , Frank Wilczek and David Politzer . From the 1970s, he dealt with lattice scale theories .

In 1981 he received the Max Planck Medal from the DPG .


  • Jaffe, Lehmann, Mack, Obituary Communications in Mathematical Physics, Vol. 97, 1985, p. 1 (with list of publications)
  • Symanzik on Schwinger's functional in field theory , Zeitschrift für Naturforschung Vol. 9a, 1954, pp. 809-824
  • Symanzik, Lehmann, Zimmermann On the formulation of quantized field theories , Part 1, Nuovo Cimento, Vol. 1, 1955, p. 205, Part 2 (English) ibid., Vol. 6, 1957, pp. 319–333
  • Symanzik, Lehmann, Zimmermann The vertex function in quantized field theories , ibid. Vol. 2, 1955, p. 425
  • Symanzik Euclidean quantum field theory , in R. Jost (Ed.) Local quantum field theory , Varenna Lectures 1968, New York, Academic Press 1969
  • Symanzik Small distance behavior analysis and power counting , Comm.Math.Phys., Vol. 18, 1970, p. 227
  • Symanzik Small distance behavior analysis and Wilson expansions , ibid., Vol. 23, 1971, p. 49
  • Symanzik Infrared singularities and small distance behavior analysis , ibid., Vol. 34, 1973, p. 7
  • Gerard t'Hooft The search for the ultimate building blocks , Cambridge University Press 2003 (with memories of Symanzik in Hamburg)
  • Glimm, Jaffe Quantum Physics - a functional integral point of view , Springer

Individual evidence

  1. Kurt Symanzik . CERN Courier. Pp. 25-26. 1984. Retrieved August 2, 2019.