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Isolated systems and their symmetries, part II: local and global symmetries of field theories

Wallace, David (2019) Isolated systems and their symmetries, part II: local and global symmetries of field theories. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Physical theories, for the most part, should be understood as modelling isolated subsystems of a larger Universe; doing so, among other benefits, greatly clarifies the interpretation of the dynamical symmetries of those theories. Building on a general framework for the symmetries of isolated systems developed in the prequel to this paper, I apply that framework to field theory. The resultant analysis provides a general basis for interpreting the physical significance of symmetries according to their topological and asymptotic features: global symmetries in general, and local symmetries insofar as they preserve boundary conditions and are asymptotically nonvanishing and/or topologically nontrivial, can be understood as physical transformations of an isolated system against the assumed background of other systems. Other symmetries in general must be understood as mere redescription, though in certain circumstances even non-boundary-preserving local symmetries can be afforded physical significance. The analysis largely reproduces --- and so can be seen as a theoretical justification for --- general practice in contemporary physics.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Wallace, Daviddmw121@pitt.edu
Keywords: Symmetry Field theory
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: David Wallace
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2019 02:12
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2019 02:12
Item ID: 16624
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16624

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