In quantum chromodynamics, the confining and strong coupling nature of the theory means that conventional perturbative techniques often fail to apply. The QCD sum rules (or Shifman–Vainshtein–Zakharov sum rules) are a way of dealing with this. The idea is to work with gauge invariant operators and operator product expansions of them. The vacuum to vacuum correlation function for the product of two such operators can be reexpressed as

<math>\left\langle 0 | T\left\{ \mathcal{O}_1(x) \mathcal{O}_2(0) \right\} | 0 \right\rangle </math> where we have inserted hadronic particle states on the right hand side.