Abstract:
We perform an extraction of alpha_s based on sum rules involving isovector hadronic tau decay data. The particular sum rules employed are constructed specifically to suppress contributions associated with poorly known higher dimension condensates, and hence reduce theoretical systematic uncertainties associated with the treatment of such contributions which are shown to be present in earlier related analyses. Running our results from the n_f=3 to n_f=5 regime we find alpha_s(M_Z^2)=0.1187(16), in excellent agreement with the recently updated global fit to electroweak data at the Z scale, 0.1191(27), and other high-scale direct determinations.

Abstract:
We have reevaluated the hadronic contribution to the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon (g-2) and to the running of the QED fine structure constant alpha(s) at s=M_Z**2. We incorporated new data from hadronic tau decays, recently published by the ALEPH Collaboration. In addition, compared to previous analyses, we use more extensive e+e- annihilation data sets. The integration over the total hadronic cross section is performed using experimental data up to 40 GeV and results from perturbative QCD above 40 GeV. The improvement from tau data concerns mainly the pion form factor, where the uncertainty in the corresponding integral could be reduced by more than a factor of two. We obtain for the lowest order hadronic vacuum polarization graph a_mu(had) = (695.0 +/- 15.0) x 10^{-10} and delta(alpha(M_Z**2))(had) = (280.9 +/- 6.3) x 10^{-4} using e+e- data only. The corresponding results for combined e+e- and tau data are a_mu(had) = (701.1 +/- 9.4) x 10^{-10} and delta(alpha(M_Z**2))(had) = (281.7 +/- 6.2) x 10^{-4}, where the latter is calculated using the contribution from the five lightest quarks.

Abstract:
Sum rule tests are performed on the spectral data for (i) flavor 'ud' vector- current-induced hadronic tau decays and (ii) e^+ e^- hadroproduction, in the region below s~3-4 GeV^2, where discrepancies exist between the isospin- breaking-corrected charged and neutral current I=1 spectral functions. The tau data is found to be compatible with expectations based on high-scale alpha_s(M_Z) determinations, while the electroproduction data displays two problems. The results favor determinations of the leading order hadronic contribution to (g-2)_mu which incorporate hadronic tau decay data over those employing electroproduction data only, and hence a reduced discrepancy between experiment and the Standard Model prediction for (g-2)_mu.

Abstract:
We discuss the extraction of alpha_s using isovector hadronic tau decay data and sum rules constructed specifically to suppress contributions associated with poorly known higher dimension condensates. We show, first, that problems with the treatment of such contributions affect earlier related analyses and, second, that these problems can be brought under good theoretical control through the use of an alternate analysis strategy. Our results, run up to the n_f=5 regime, correspond to alpha_s(M_Z^2)=0.1187(16), in excellent agreement with the recently updated global fit to electroweak data at the Z scale and other high-scale direct determinations.

Abstract:
The finite energy sum rule extraction of the strong coupling {\alpha}_s from hadronic {\tau} decay data provides one of its most precise experimental determinations. As precision improves, small non-perturbative effects become increasingly relevant to both the central value and error. Here we present a new framework for this extraction employing a physically motivated model to accommodate violations of quark-hadron duality and enforcing a consistent treatment of higher-dimension operator product expansion contributions. Using 1998 OPAL data for the non-strange vector and axial-vector spectral functions, we find the n_f=3 values for {\alpha}_s(m_{\tau}^2) of 0.307(19) for fixed-order perturbation theory and 0.322(26) for contour-improved perturbation theory, corresponding to n_f=5 values for {\alpha}_s(M_Z^2) of 0.1169(25) and 0.1187(32), respectively.

Abstract:
We report on recent work to determine the CKM matrix element |V_{us}| using strange hadronic \tau decay data. We use the recent OPAL update of the strange spectral function, while on the theory side we update the dimension-two perturbative contribution including the recently calculated \alpha_s^3 terms. Our result |V_{us}|=0.2220 \pm 0.0033 is already competitive with the standard extraction from K_{e3} decays and other new proposals to determine |V_{us}|. The actual uncertainty on |V_{us}| from \tau data is dominated largely by experiment and will eventually be much reduced by B-factories and future \tau-charm factory data, providing one of the most accurate determinations of this Standard Model parameter.

Abstract:
The dispersive approach to QCD and its applications to inclusive tau lepton hadronic decay and hadronic vacuum polarization function are briefly discussed.

Abstract:
The hadronic decay rate of the tau lepton serves as one of the most precise determinations of the QCD coupling alpha_s. The dominant theoretical source of uncertainty at present resides in the seeming disparity of two approaches to improving the perturbative expansion with the help of the renormalisation group, namely fixed-order and contour-improved perturbation theory. In this work it is demonstrated that in fact both approaches yield compatible results. However, the fixed-order series is found to oscillate around the contour-improved result with an oscillation frequency of approximately six perturbative orders, approaching it until about the 30th order, after which the expansion reveals its asymptotic nature. Additionally, the renormalisation scale and scheme dependencies of the perturbative series for the tau hadronic width are investigated in detail.

Abstract:
I calculate the QED coupling, alpha, directly in the MS-bar scheme using an unsubtracted dispersion relation for the three light quarks, and perturbative QCD for charm and bottom quarks. Compact analytical expressions are presented, making this approach particularly suitable for electroweak fits. After alpha^(-1) (m_tau) = 133.513 +- 0.025 is obtained in a first step, I perform a 4-loop renormalization group evolution with 3-loop matching conditions to arrive at alpha^(-1) (M_Z) = 127.934 +- 0.026 for alpha_s (M_Z) = 0.120. The corresponding hadronic contribution to the on-shell coupling is Delta alpha_had^(5) (M_Z) = 0.02779 +- 0.00019. The error is mainly from m_c, and from experimental uncertainties in e^+ e^- annihilation into unflavored and strange hadrons and tau decay data.

Abstract:
With the help of a physically motivated ansatz, which is fitted to the data, we estimate the size of possible duality violations in hadronic tau decay. The result is that the uncertainty associated with these violations could impact the alpha_s determination from the total decay width at a level which we estimate to be \delta alpha_s(m_tau) \sim 0.003-0.010. Consequently, it cannot be neglected.