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In all nontrivial cases renormalization, as it is usually formulated, is not a change of integration variables in the functional integral, plus parameter redefinitions, but a set of replacements, of actions and/or field variables and parameters. Because of this, we cannot write simple identities relating bare and renormalized generating functionals, or generating functionals before and after nonlinear changes of field variables. In this paper we investigate this issue and work out a general field-covariant approach to quantum field theory, which allows us to treat all perturbative changes of field variables, including the relation between bare and renormalized fields, as true changes of variables in the functional integral, under which the functionals Z and W = ln Z behave as scalars. We investigate the relation between composite fields and changes of field variables, and show that, if J are the sources coupled to the elementary fields, all changes of field variables can be expressed as J-dependent redefinitions of the sources L coupled to the composite fields. We also work out the relation between the renormalization of variable-changes and the renormalization of composite fields. Using our transformation rules it is possible to derive the renormalization of a theory in a new variable frame from the renormalization in the old variable frame, without having to calculate it anew. We define several approaches, useful for different purposes, in particular a linear approach where all variable changes are described as linear source redefinitions. We include a number of explicit examples.


Eur. Phys. J. C 73 (2013) 2338 | DOI: 10.1140/epjc/s10052-013-2338-5

arXiv:1205.3279 [hep-th]

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14B1 D. Anselmi

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Last update: May 9th 2015, 230 pages

Contents: Preface | 1. Functional integral | 2. Renormalization | 3. Renormalization group | 4. Gauge symmetry | 5. Canonical formalism | 6. Quantum electrodynamics | 7. Non-Abelian gauge field theories | Notation and useful formulas | References

Course on renormalization, taught in Pisa in 2015. (More chapters will be added later.)