Quantum chromodynamics

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In theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics (QCD) is the theory of strong interactions, a fundamental force describing the interactions between quarks and gluons, which make up hadrons such as the proton, neutron and pion. QCD is a type of quantum field theory called a non-abelian gauge theory with symmetry group SU(3). The QCD analog of electric charge is a property called color. Gluons are the force carrier of the theory, like photons are for the electromagnetic force in quantum electrodynamics. The theory is an important part of the Standard Model of particle physics.


  • Will we ever derive the necessary mathematical tools to analytically demonstrate from first principles that confinement is indeed a mathematical property of quantum chromodynamics? This is the million-dollar question, literally. The Clay Mathematics Institute has announced a million-dollar prize for a rigorous mathematical proof that quantum chromodynamics does not allow free quarks or gluons to be produced. While no claimants to the prize have yet come forward, we nevertheless have strong indirect support of this idea, coming not only from experimental observations, but also from numerical simulations that closely approximate the complicated interactions in quantum chromodynamics. This is heartening, if not definitive. We still have to confirm that it is some property of the theory and not of the computer simulation. However, for physicists, if not mathematicians, this seems pretty convincing.

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