Take the 2-minute tour ×
MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm not very experienced in this topic, but I read a short description of the Yang-Mills existence and mass gap problem, and as long as I understood it has mainly physical consequences and implications. Therefore, I was just curious what it has to do with mathematics? And what are the mathematical and general consequences of a possible solution to it?

share|improve this question
    
Yang-Mills asks for a proof that a certain mathematical model exists with certain mathematical properties. This is a mathematical question. –  Qiaochu Yuan Jul 25 '12 at 23:15
    
There are many mathematical questions that are born from investigation of mathematical models of physical theories. That is essentially a characterization of the entire field of mathematical physics, which is often regarded as a subfield of mathematics. Certainly, a resolution of the Yang-Mills mass gap problem would be a major advance within a subfield of mathematical physics, with lots of implications for other similar questions within the same field. Is this kind of answer sufficient or are you interested specifically in what these questions are? –  Igor Khavkine Jul 26 '12 at 1:02
    
Actually, I was looking for a more specific answers. Regarding both mathematical consequences and consequences to other branches of science. –  erkant Jul 26 '12 at 11:24

1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

There is a long, long list of mathematical subjects that were either pioneered or significantly inspired by results in quantum field theory. However, while physicists may trust the manipulations they do in QFT, and the results of those manipulations have been spectacularly successful, for almost every interesting quantum field theory, there isn't even a rigorous definition or existence proof, much less a justification behind the manipulations that led to the invention of, for example, Seiberg-Witten invariants.

Solving the mass gap problem in Yang-Mills would represent the successful rigorous existence of a very non-trivial quantum field theory and the demonstration of a very nontrivial result about that field theory (that hasn't even been adequately demonstrated using physical techniques). While there probably aren't many direct mathematical consequences to the existence of a mass gap, the techniques involved would almost assuredly be applicable towards the large number of QFT inspired results in mathematics.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.