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At the end of the day, though, you don't need to worry too much about this.
In addition, you can make it more your own by adding some commentary. Why have you chosen these particular tools for your particular problem?
How do the theoretical tools that you are using compare with others that have been proposed? These are similar questions any researcher faces while writing articles/ publications/ thesis.
Question, in two parts: Although I'm not in "physics/applied-math", but, rather, "math", I see the same or similar issue arise.
Let's consider the point that, by this year, the "context/background/set-up" has very likely been , both for effectiveness and for succinctness. So it is likely to be hard to "improvise" much on its description without making it worse in some way.
But this happens more in textbooks or in review papers, less in theses.
Theory Thesis Writing
If you feel that you are copying too much from "standard" sources (in your subfield), chances are you are.You're summing up what other people have done and discussed. Other answers have good suggestions regarding how to approach writing this section.PS - Sometimes, the cogent presentation of the theoretical background can itself be considered a contribution.Keep in mind that your audience is mostly people in your field (generally), they should be familiar with the area.Just cite (the best/a few) reference(s), give the result you need (for benefit of somebody from outside the field stumbling on your thesis, or as a reminder to others), and move on.Then, go back and check your version against the standard references to make sure you didn't get anything wrong and that you've included any relevant citations.If you see that one of the standard sources has explained one of the concepts much better than you did, consider explicitly quoting that source: e.g., "Symplectic widgets were defined by Widgetmeister [Wid83] as [...]".So the idea of doing science as a profession also wasn't really anything like it is these days.So why do you feel like you are plagiarising the work of others when setting the scene in your Ph D thesis?A large-ish part (5-10 pages, estimated) will be setting the scene with some theoretical tools that I am using but did not invent.These tools will eventually be used as the basis for analysing data.