The purpose of the ZiF:Workshop on Frontiers in Perturbative Quantum Field Theory, which took place from June 14-16, was to bring together a group of leading experts in the disciplines of number theory, algebraic field theory, and symbolic as well as numerical computation on one side, and cosmology, heavy ion physics, and particle physics on the other side, in order to prepare for the next generation of high-precision calculations in perturbative quantum field theories, to be confronted with the next generation of astronomy and collider experiments. Such calculations are expected to become of vital importance once the first results from the next generation of collider experiments-which will be performed at the LHC starting in spring 2008-become available to challenge theoretical predictions.
Through a program of three days of invited lectures, contributed talks, and informal discussions, the goal was to combine expertise in these key disciplines, and to use this synergy effect to obtain new understanding on fundamental open problems in the physics settings mentioned. Participants included scientists from ten different countries, including Croatia, Estonia, France, Italy, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, UK, USA, and Germany, reflecting the fact that research at the frontiers of science is a truly international endeavour.
During the workshop, it became clear that to pursue a thorough investigation of the very concepts of our present understanding of nature poses outstanding challenges on widely different fronts. First, there is an urgent need to advance the level of precision with which we are comparing theoretical predictions with accurate experiments. This was demonstrated explicitly by Prof. Steinhauser from Karlsruhe, who presented an impressive list of particle physics processes in his introductory lecture, for which such precise predictions are only partially known today.
Second, to drive perturbative calculations to a new level of precision, one needs to better understand algebraic properties of the underlying field theory, and to develop number-theoretic insight into the structure of the expansions employed, as pointed out by Dr. Moch from DESY Zeuthen, who gave the opening lecture on the second day. This led to a variety of discussions in the course of the day, including topics like how to drive the field of computer-aided symbolic manipulation to new extremes.
Third, in order to maximize our potential to verify the fundamental descriptions of nature, to sharpen our quantum field theoretic concepts, and to formulate experimental and observational implications, exploring field theories in extreme conditions promises to be a most fruitful direction of exploration. To this end, Dr. Vuorinen from Seattle opened the final day of the workshop with a discussion of hot and dense systems, pointing out challenges and opportunities in equilibrium thermodynamics.
As an overall impression, based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback of many workshop participants, ZiF has managed to provide for an excellent venue for this stimulating workshop. In many opinions that were voiced by the participants, it was stressed that it would be most valuable to have a corresponding follow-up meeting in a year or two, in order to critically discuss progress made in the most urgent fields, and to infuse new ideas and developments that might become relevant within that period.