We present detailed analytic calculations of finite-volume energy spectra, mean-field theory, as well as a systematic low-energy effective field theory for the square lattice quantum dimer model. An emergent approximate spontaneously broken SO(2) symmetry gives rise to a pseudo-Goldstone boson. Remarkably, this soft phononlike excitation, which is massless at the Rokhsar-Kivelson (RK) point, exists far beyond this point. The Goldstone physics is captured by a systematic low-energy effective field theory. We determine its low-energy parameters by matching the analytic effective field theory with exact diagonalization results. This confirms that the model exists in the columnar (and not in a plaquette or mixed) phase all the way to the RK point.
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