Dramatic progress has been made over the last decade in the numerical study of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) through the use of improved formulations of QCD on the lattice (improved actions), the development of new algorithms, and the rapid increase in computing power available to lattice gauge theorists. In this article simulations of full QCD are described using the improved staggered quark formalism, "asqtad" fermions. These simulations were carried out with two degenerate flavors of light quarks (up and down) and with one heavier flavor, the strange quark. Several light quark masses, down to about three times the physical light quark mass, and six lattice spacings have been used. These enable controlled continuum and chiral extrapolations of many low energy QCD observables. The improved staggered formalism is reviewed, emphasizing both advantages and drawbacks. In particular, the procedure for removing unwanted staggered species in the continuum limit is reviewed. Then the asqtad lattice ensembles created by the MILC Collaboration are described. All MILC lattice ensembles are publicly available, and they have been used extensively by a number of lattice gauge theory groups. The physics results obtained with them are reviewed, and the impact of these results on phenomenology is discussed. Topics include the heavy quark potential, spectrum of light hadrons, quark masses, decay constants of light and heavy-light pseudoscalar mesons, semileptonic form factors, nucleon structure, scattering lengths, and more.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)