8.334 Organization - Spring 2024

General Information

Course Catalog description:

8.334: Statistical Physics of Fields

Prerequites: Statistical Mechanics (8.333)
Units: 4-0-8
Lectures and Recitations: MWF  2.30-4    (3-370),  according to the posted schedule.

Lectures are in person; first lecture on Monday, February 5, 2024

Use of the Web

The URL for the home page of this course is http://web.mit.edu/8.334/www. Students should check this site frequently for updates.

The distribution of all documents (course schedule, lecture notes, homework problems and solutions, and other handouts and announcements) will be done using the World-Wide-Web. But, note that some material is only accessible to sites in the MIT domain.

Grades will be posted on the web using student aliases to maintain confidentiality. Aliases should be chosen by students when checking in online at the start of term.

You can also send your comments anonymously using the provided online form (Be constructive!). Discussions of general interest will be posted.


The following are useful reference books:

M. Kardar Statistical Physics of Fields
S.-K. Ma Modern Theory of Critical Phenomena
H.E. Stanley Introduction to Phase Transitions and Critical Phenomena
D.J. Amit Field Theory, Renormalization Group and Critical Phenomena
K. Huang Statistical Mechanics
J. Negele and H. Orland Quantum Many Particle Systems
R.P. Feynman Statistical Mechanics
G. Parisi Statistical Field Theory

Problem Sets

The homework assignments are an important part of this course, and the final average homework score will count for 60% of the final grade. You may consult with classmates in "study groups," as long as you write out your own answers, and do not use solution-sets from previous years. or large language models.

The complete schedule of assignments (there will be 6) with due dates is available online. Hyperlinks to the actual problem sets and solutions will be created as the term progresses. Problem sets are due by  the end of the day on the due date. by Email or other arrangement by that time to the TA. No problem sets will be accepted after the solutions have been posted. Problem sets handed in after the 5 pm deadline but before the solutions have been posted are subject to a 50% grade penalty.

Occasionally, there are problems marked as optional in the problem sets. If attempted, these problems will be graded as other problems, and their score added to the total. The overall grade for the course has a  60% contribution from the (required) problem sets. Thus, perfect scores on all the non-optional problems leads to the maximal grade of   60 from the problem sets. The optional problems provide a chance to reach the 60%-score for the problem sets, even when the grades for required problems falls below this mark.


There will be a mid-term test on Friday April 19 during lecture time;  counting for 15% of the final grade.

A missed test will be averaged into the final grade as zero, unless an excuse is obtained in advance. Excuses are granted only for very serious circumstances attested to by the Dean's office. A student who has been excused may be required to take a makeup test.


Final grades will be determined from: Your final letter grade will reflect our best attempt to evaluate objectively your performance in the course:
A: Exceptionally good performance, demonstrating a superior understanding of the subject matter, a foundation of extensive knowledge, and a skillful use of concepts and/or materials.

B: Good performance, demonstrating capacity to use the appropriate concepts, a good understanding of the subject matter, and an ability to handle the problems and materials encountered in the subject.

C: Adequate performance, demonstrating an adequate understanding of the subject matter, an ability to handle relatively simple problems, and adequate preparation for moving on to more advanced work in the field.

D: Minimally acceptable performance, demonstrating at least partial familiarity with the subject matter and some capacity to deal with relatively simple problems, but also demonstrating deficiencies serious enough to make it inadvisable to proceed further in the field without additional work.

F: Failed. This grade also signifies that the student must repeat the subject to receive credit.

--From the MIT Regulations of the Faculty

In accord with MIT Rules and Regulations of the Faculty section 2.62, the Physics Department does not grade on a curve. Students are assessed individually, and there is no pre-determined grade spread in any subject. Consistent with this, after Drop Date, students who remain in a class are not in jeopardy of seeing their grades change due to the change in class composition.

Important: Please be aware of MIT Physics Community Values

Please note the availability of the following resources in case of need:

Student Support Services

If you are dealing with a personal or medical issue that is impacting your ability to attend class, complete work, or take an exam, please discuss this with Student Support Services (S3). The deans in S3 will verify your situation, and then discuss with you how to address the missed work. Students will not be excused from coursework without verification from Student Support Services. You may consult with Student Support Services in 5-104 or at 617-253-4861. Also, S3 has walk-in hours Monday-Friday 9:00-10:00am.

Student Disability Services

MIT is committed to the principle of equal access. Students who need disability accommodations are encouraged to speak with Kathleen Monagle, Associate Dean, prior to or early in the semester so that accommodation requests can be evaluated and addressed in a timely fashion. Even if you are not planning to use accommodations, it is recommended that you meet with SDS staff to familiarize yourself with the services and resources of the office. You may also consult with Student Disability Services in 5-104 or at 617-253-1674. If you have already been approved for accommodations, please contact me early in the semester so that we can work together to get your accommodation logistics in place.

Writing and Communication Center (WCC)

WCC at MIT offers free one-on-one professional advice from communication experts. The WCC is staffed completely by MIT lecturers. All have advanced degrees. All are experienced college classroom teachers of communication. All are published scholars and writers. Not counting the WCC’s director’s years (he started the WCC in 1982), the WCC lecturers have a combined 135 years’ worth of teaching here at MIT (ranging from 5 to 25 years). The WCC works with undergraduate, graduate students, post-docs, faculty, staff, alums, and spouses. The WCC helps you strategize about all types of academic and professional writing as well as about all aspects of oral presentations (including practicing classroom presentations & conference talks as well as designing slides). No matter what department or discipline you are in, the WCC helps you think your way more deeply into your topic, helps you see new implications in your data, research, and ideas. The WCC also helps with all English as Second Language issues, from writing and grammar to pronunciation and conversation practice. The WCC is located in E18-233, 50 Ames Street.  To guarantee yourself a time, make an appointment with our online scheduler. To register with our online scheduler and to make appointments, go to https://mit.mywconline.com/ . To access the WCC’s many pages of advice about writing and oral presentations, go to http://cmsw.mit.edu/writing-and-communication-center/ . Check the online scheduler for up-to-date hours and available appointments.

8.334 Organization - last update      1/9/2024    by  M. Kardar