Hugh Osborn has worked on many aspects of quantum field theory. This is an area which is crucial in current theoretical physics, in particular the standard model of high energy physics and also for the theory of condensed matter. His work has been related to understanding how quantum field theories change, or flow, as the energy scale changes. This is called the renormalisation group flow and its application is an essential part of our modern understanding.
The renormalisation group flow typically ends at fixed points where energy scales are absent and the theory becomes conformal which involves extra symmetries. Conformal symmetry was for some time not much investigated but, together with various research students, in particular Anastasios Petkou, Johanna Erdmenger and Francis Dolan, Osborn analysed some of the basic features of conformal field theories in realistic dimensions. The led to some simple formulae for what are now termed conformal blocks. These play a crucial role in modern applications of the bootstrap which may generate experimental numbers from minimal assumptions. The idea of the bootstrap is now central to our understanding of conformal field theories and quantum field theories more generally.
Emeritus Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge
Interest and expertise
Astronomy and physics
Elementary particle physics, Mathematical and theoretical physics, Quantum theory