Strong dynamics and lattice gauge theory
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In this dissertation I use lattice gauge theory to study models of electroweak symmetry breaking that involve new strong dynamics. Electroweak symmetry breaking (EWSB) is the process by which elementary particles acquire mass. First proposed in the 1960s, this process has been clearly established by experiments, and can now be considered a law of nature. However, the physics underlying EWSB is still unknown, and understanding it remains a central challenge in particle physics today. A natural possibility is that EWSB is driven by the dynamics of some new, strongly-interacting force. Strong interactions invalidate the standard analytical approach of perturbation theory, making these models difficult to study. Lattice gauge theory is the premier method for obtaining quantitatively-reliable, nonperturbative predictions from strongly-interacting theories. In this approach, we replace spacetime by a regular, finite grid of discrete sites connected by links. The fields and interactions described by the theory are likewise discretized, and defined on the lattice so that we recover the original theory in continuous spacetime on an infinitely large lattice with sites infinitesimally close together. The finite number of degrees of freedom in the discretized system lets us simulate the lattice theory using high-performance computing. Lattice gauge theory has long been applied to quantum chromodynamics, the theory of strong nuclear interactions. Using lattice gauge theory to study dynamical EWSB, as I do in this dissertation, is a new and exciting application of these methods. Of particular interest is non-perturbative lattice calculation of the electroweak S parameter. Experimentally S ~ -0.15(10), which tightly constrains dynamical EWSB. On the lattice, I extract S from the momentum-dependence of vector and axial-vector current correlators. I created and applied computer programs to calculate these correlators and analyze them to determine S. I also calculated the masses and other properties of the new particles predicted by these theories. I find S > 0.1 in the specific theories I study. Although this result still disagrees with experiment, it is much closer to the experimental value than is the conventional wisdom S > 0.3. These results encourage further lattice studies to search for experimentally viable strongly-interacting theories of EWSB.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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