propagator(redirected from Propagator (field theory))
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Propagator (field theory)
The probability amplitude for a particle to move or propagate to some new point of space and time when its amplitude at some point of origination is known. The propagator occurs as an important part of the probability in reactions and interactions in all branches of modern physics. Its properties are best described in the framework of quantum field theory for relativistic particles, where it is written in terms of energy and momentum. Concrete examples for electron-proton and proton-proton scattering are provided in the illustration. The amplitude for these processes contains the propagators for the exchanged proton and meson, which actually specify the dominant part of the probability of each process when the scattering occurs at small angles. In similar fashion, for any electromagnetic process, a propagator for each internal line of the Feynman diagram (each line not connected directly to the outside world) enters the probability amplitude. See Feynman diagram, Quantum electrodynamics, Quantum field theory, Quantum mechanics