gauge theory

World English Dictionary
gauge theory
 
n
physics a type of theory of elementary particles designed to explain the strong, weak, and electromagnetic interactions in terms of exchange of virtual particles

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Encyclopedia Britannica
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gauge theory

class of quantum field theory, a mathematical theory involving both quantum mechanics and Einstein's special theory of relativity that is commonly used to describe subatomic particles and their associated wave fields. In a gauge theory there is a group of transformations of the field variables (gauge transformations) that leaves the basic physics of the quantum field unchanged. This condition, called gauge invariance, gives the theory a certain symmetry, which governs its equations. In short, the structure of the group of gauge transformations in a particular gauge theory entails general restrictions on the way in which the field described by that theory can interact with other fields and elementary particles

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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