Fundamentals of the exact renormalization group
Various aspects of the Exact Renormalization Group (ERG) are explored, starting with a review of the concepts underpinning the framework and the circumstances under which it is expected to be useful. A particular emphasis is placed on the intuitive picture provided for both renormalization in quantum field theory and universality associated with second order phase transitions. A qualitative discussion of triviality, asymptotic freedom and asymptotic safety is presented. Focusing on scalar field theory, the construction of assorted flow equations is considered using a general approach, whereby different ERGs follow from field redefinitions. It is recalled that Polchinski’s equation can be cast as a heat equation, which provides intuition and computational techniques for what follows. The analysis of properties of exact solutions to flow equations includes a proof that the spectrum of the anomalous dimension at critical fixed-points is quantized. Two alternative methods for computing the Î²-function in Î»Ï4 theory are considered. For one of these it is found that all explicit dependence on the non-universal differences between a family of ERGs cancels out, exactly. The Wilson–Fisher fixed-point is rediscovered in a rather novel way. The discussion of nonperturbative approximation schemes focuses on the derivative expansion, and includes a refinement of the arguments that, at the lowest order in this approximation, a function can be constructed which decreases monotonically along the flow. A new perspective is provided on the relationship between the renormalizability of the Wilsonian effective action and of correlation functions, following which the construction of manifestly gauge invariant ERGs is sketched, and some new insights are given. Drawing these strands together suggests a new approach to quantum field theory.