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The order of the chiral phase transition of lattice QCD with unimproved staggered fermions is known to depend on the number of quark flavours, their masses and the lattice spacing. Previous studies in the literature for Nf∈{3,4} show first-order transitions, which weaken with decreasing lattice spacing. Here we investigate what happens when lattices are made coarser to establish contact to the strong coupling region. For Nf∈{4,8} we find a drastic weakening of the transition when going from Nτ=4 to Nτ=2, which is consistent with a second-order chiral transition reported in the literature for Nf=4 in the strong coupling limit. This implies a non-monotonic behaviour of the critical quark or pseudo-scalar meson mass, which separates first-order transitions from crossover behaviour, as a function of lattice spacing.

The so-called Columbia plot summarises the order of the QCD thermal transition as a function of the number of quark flavours and their masses. Recently, it was demonstrated that the first-order chiral transition region, as seen for Nf∈[3,6] on coarse lattices, exhibits tricritical scaling while extrapolating to zero on sufficiently fine lattices. Here we extend these studies to imaginary baryon chemical potential. A similar shrinking of the first-order region is observed with decreasing lattice spacing, which again appears compatible with a tricritical extrapolation to zero.

The core of this work is represented by the investigation of the chiral phase transition, using Monte Carlo simulations and unimproved staggered fermions, both in the weak and strong coupling regimes of Quantum Chromodynamics. Based on recent results from Monte Carlo simulations, both using unimproved staggered fermions and Wilson fermions, the chiral phase transition in the continuum and chiral limit shows compatibility with a second-order phase transition for Nf (number of flavours) in range [2:7], at zero baryon chemical potential. This achievement relies on the analytic continuation of Nf to non-integer values on the lattice, which allows to make use of extrapolation techniques to the chiral limit, where simulations are not possible. Furthermore, these results provide a resolution to the ambiguous scenario for Nf = 2 in the chiral limt. The first part of this thesis is devoted to the investigation of the chiral phase transition when a non-zero imaginary baryon chemical potential is involved, whose value corresponds to the 81% of the Roberge-Weiss one. Using the same extrapolation techniques aforementioned, the order of the chiral phase transition in the continuum and chiral limit shows compatibility with a second-order phase transition for Nf in range [2:6], highlighting a lack of dependence of the order of the chiral phase transition on the imaginary baryon chemical potential value. The second part of this thesis is about the study of the extension of the first-order chiral region in the strong coupling regime, at zero baryon chemical potential. Using Monte Carlo techniques, this can be done by investigating the Z2 boundary on a coarse lattice, whose temporal extent reads Nt = 2, and simulations are realised for Nf = 4, 8. The results in the weak coupling regime show, for $Nt = 8, 6, 4 and fixed Nf value, an inflating first-order chiral region. As in the strong coupling limit a second-order chiral phase transition is expected, the first-order chiral region has to shrink as the strong coupling regime is approached, resulting in a non-monotonic behaviour of the Z2 boundary. For Nf = 8, a critical mass on the Z2 boundary has been obtained, confirming the expected non-monotonic behaviour. For Nf = 4 the results do not provide a unique conclusion: Either a Z2 boundary at extremely low bare quark mass or a second-order chiral phase transition in the O(2) universality class in the chiral limit can take place. In addition to the two main topics, the performances of the second-order minimum norm integrator (2MN) and the fourth-order minimum norm integrator (4MN) have been compared, after implementing the 4MN one in the CL2QCD code used to realise our simulations. The 2MN integrator had already been implemented in the code since the first version was released. The two integrators belong to the class of symplectic integrators and represent an essential component of the RHMC algorithm, involved in our investigation. This step is extremely important, in order to guarantee the best quality when collecting data from simulations, and the results of the comparison suggested to favor the 2MN integrator, for both the topics.