Physics Reports ( IF 25.798 ) Pub Date : 2019-02-22 , DOI: 10.1016/j.physrep.2019.02.003 Inês Aniceto, Gökçe Başar, Ricardo Schiappa
The computation of observables in general interacting theories, be them quantum mechanical, field, gauge or string theories, is a non-trivial problem which in many cases can only be addressed by resorting to perturbative methods. In most physically interesting problems these perturbative expansions result in asymptotic series with zero radius of convergence. These asymptotic series then require the use of resurgence and transseries in order for the associated observables to become nonperturbatively well-defined. Resurgence encodes the complete large-order asymptotic behaviour of the coefficients from a perturbative expansion, generically in terms of (multi) instanton sectors and for each problem in terms of its Stokes constants. Some observables arise from linear problems, and have a finite number of instanton sectors and associated Stokes constants; some other observables arise from nonlinear problems, and have an infinite number of instanton sectors and Stokes constants. By means of two very explicit examples, and with emphasis on a pedagogical style of presentation, this work aims at serving as a primer on the aforementioned resurgent, large-order asymptotics of general perturbative expansions. This includes discussions of transseries, Stokes phenomena, generalized steepest-descent methods, Borel transforms, nonlinear resonance, and alien calculus. Furthermore, resurgent properties of transseries – usually described mathematically via alien calculus – are recast in equivalent physical languages: either a “statistical mechanical” language, as motions in chains and lattices; or a “conformal field theoretical” language, with underlying Virasoro-like algebraic structures.