A series of four lectures exploring the Exact Renormalization Group. This non-credit mini course will be offered at Perimeter Institute between April 16 and May 7 2008.
At first sight, the ERG does not sit well with gauge theories: a naive implementation of the momentum cutoff central to the ERG breaks gauge invariance. However, things are not as they seem. Not only is it possible to construct a gauge invariant cutoff, but it is possible to construct manifestly gauge invariant ERGs. I will discuss the formulation, what has been achieved to date, and what can reasonably be hoped for in the future.
One of the main strengths of the ERG is that it admits nonperturbative approximation schemes which preserve renormalizability. I will introduce a particularly powerful scheme, the derivative expansion.
I will show how to construct very general ERG equations, and will use this as the starting point for a discussion of Polchinski\'s equation and its cousins. I will introduce diagrammatics and an associated universal calculus, which will be illustrated with a simple calculation.
In this lecture, I will discuss Wilson's picture of renormalization and its relation to the Exact Renormalization Group (ERG). In particular, I will focus on how one can understand, in a physically intuitive way, what it is for a quantum field theory to be nonperturbatively renormalizable.