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A first course in string theory. With a foreword by David Gross. (English) Zbl 1072.81001
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (ISBN 0-521-83143-1/hbk; 0-511-20757-3/ebook). xx, 558 p. (2004).
What is unique about this textbook on string theory is that it was written by an accomplished expert in the field and is yet of elementary character. Based on a course for advanced undergraduates, it assumes only some familiarity with special relativity, basic quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, and introductory statistical mechanics.
The book has two parts. Part I, called “Basics”, develops string theory and ends with the quantization of the bosonic string in the light-cone gauge (superstrings are only given a brief look). The reader may be surprised to find some “modern” material such as electrodynamics and gravitation in higher dimensions right at the beginning of the book. Part II, called “Developments”, contains material with physical applications such as a phenomenologically realistic model based on intersecting D6-branes (D-branes having been introduced already in Part I with the discussion of boundary conditions for the classical open string), string thermodynamics and black hole entropy, and the AdS/CFT correspondence at an introductory level. There are also chapters on T-duality, Born-Infeld nonlinear electrodynamics (arising on D-branes), Lorentz-covariant string quantization, and string interactions.
About 100 exercises, called “Quick calculations”, are inserted at various points throughout the text. At the end of the capters more challenging problems are posed (more than 150 in total), which sometimes develop new ideas. Included in the book is also an index.
In summary, the book provides an excellent basis for an introductory course on string theory and is also well-suited for self-study by graduate students or any physicist who wants to learn the basics of string theory.
We conclude this review with a list of chapter titles:
Part I: A brief introduction – Special relativity and extra dimensions – Electromagnetism and gravitation in various dimensions – Nonrelativistic strings – The relativistic point particle – Relativistic strings – String parameterization and classical motion – World-sheet currents – Light-cone relativistic strings – Light-cone fields and particles – The relativistic quantum point particle – Relativistic quantum open strings – Relativistic quantum closed strings.
Part II: D-branes and gauge fields – String charge, electric charge, and particle physics – String thermodynamics and black holes – T-duality of closed strings – T-duality of open strings – Electromagnetic fields on D-branes – Nonlinear and Born-Infeld electrodynamics – Covariant string quantization – String interactions and Riemann surfaces – Loop amplitudes in string theory.

81-01 Introductory exposition (textbooks, tutorial papers, etc.) pertaining to quantum theory
81T30 String and superstring theories; other extended objects (e.g., branes) in quantum field theory
83E30 String and superstring theories in gravitational theory