Recent theorems

Recent Papers

Renormalization of general gauge theories

A theory of quantum gravity has been recently proposed by means of a novel quantization prescription, which is able to turn the poles of the free propagators that are due to the higher derivatives into fakeons. The classical Lagrangian contains the cosmological term, the Hilbert term, $
\sqrt{-g}R_{\mu \nu }R^{\mu \nu }$ and $\sqrt{-g}R^{2}$. In this paper, we compute the one-loop renormalization of the theory and the absorptive part of the graviton self energy. The results illustrate the mechanism that makes renormalizability compatible with unitarity. The fakeons disentangle the real part of the self energy from the imaginary part. The former obeys a renormalizable power counting, while the latter obeys the nonrenormalizable power counting of the low energy expansion and is consistent with unitarity in the limit of vanishing cosmological constant. The value of the absorptive part is related to the central charge $c$ of the matter fields coupled to gravity.

Mathematica files attached to paper


arXiv: 1803.07777 [hep-th]

The “fakeon” is a fake degree of freedom, i.e. a degree of freedom that does not belong to the physical spectrum, but propagates inside the Feynman diagrams. Fakeons can be used to make higher-derivative theories unitary. Moreover, they help us clarify how the Lee-Wick models work. In this paper we study the fakeon models, that is to say the theories that contain fake and physical degrees of freedom. We formulate them by (nonanalytically) Wick rotating their Euclidean versions. We investigate the properties of arbitrary Feynman diagrams and, among other things, prove that the fakeon models are perturbatively unitary to all orders. If standard power counting constraints are fulfilled, the models are also renormalizable. The S matrix is regionwise analytic. The amplitudes can be continued from the Euclidean region to the other regions by means of an unambiguous, but nonanalytic, operation, called average continuation. We compute the average continuation of typical amplitudes in four, three and two dimensions and show that its predictions agree with those of the nonanalytic Wick rotation. By reconciling renormalizability and unitarity in higher-derivative theories, the fakeon models are good candidates to explain quantum gravity.


J. High Energy Phys. 02 (2018) 141 | DOI: 10.1007/JHEP02(2018)141

arXiv: 1801.00915 [hep-th]

We study the main options for a unitary and renormalizable, local quantum field theory of the gravitational interactions. The first model is a Lee-Wick superrenormalizable higher-derivative gravity, formulated as a nonanalytically Wick rotated Euclidean theory. We show that, under certain conditions, the $S$ matrix is unitary when the cosmological constant vanishes. The model is the simplest of its class. However, infinitely many similar options are allowed, which raises the issue of uniqueness. To deal with this problem, we propose a new quantization prescription, by doubling the unphysical poles of the higher-derivative propagators and turning them into Lee-Wick poles. The Lagrangian of the simplest theory of quantum gravity based on this idea is the linear combination of $R$, $R_{\mu \nu}R^{\mu \nu }$, $R^{2}$ and the cosmological term. Only the graviton propagates in the cutting equations and, when the cosmological constant vanishes, the $S$ matrix is unitary. The theory satisfies the locality of counterterms and is renormalizable by power counting. It is unique in the sense that it is the only one with a dimensionless gauge coupling.

Mathematica files attached to paper


J. High Energy Phys. 06 (2017) 086 | DOI: doi:10.1007/JHEP06(2017)086

arXiv: 1704.07728 [hep-th]

We show that Minkowski higher-derivative quantum field theories are generically inconsistent, because they generate nonlocal, non-Hermitian ultraviolet divergences, which cannot be removed by means of standard renormalization procedures. By “Minkowski theories” we mean theories that are defined directly in Minkowski spacetime. The problems occur when the propagators have complex poles, so that the correlation functions cannot be obtained as the analytic continuations of their Euclidean versions. The usual power counting rules fail and are replaced by much weaker ones. Self-energies generate complex divergences proportional to inverse powers of D’Alembertians. Three-point functions give more involved nonlocal divergences, which couple to infrared effects. The violations of the locality and Hermiticity of counterterms are illustrated by means of explicit computations in scalar models and higher-derivative gravity.


Eur. Phys. J. C 77 (2017) 84 | DOI: 10.1140/epjc/s10052-017-4646-7

arXiv: 1612.06510 [hep-th]

We reconsider perturbative unitarity in quantum field theory and upgrade several arguments and results. The minimum assumptions that lead to the largest time equation, the cutting equations and the unitarity equation are identified. Using this knowledge and a special gauge, we give a new, simpler proof of perturbative unitarity in gauge theories and generalize it to quantum gravity, in four and higher dimensions. The special gauge interpolates between the Feynman gauge and the Coulomb gauge without double poles. When the Coulomb limit is approached, the unphysical particles drop out of the cuts and the cutting equations are consistently projected onto the physical subspace. The proof does not extend to nonlocal quantum field theories of gauge fields and gravity, whose unitarity remains uncertain.


Phys. Rev. D 94 (2016) 025028 | DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.94.025028

arXiv: 1606.06348 [hep-th]

We prove the Adler-Bardeen theorem in a large class of general gauge theories, including nonrenormalizable ones. We assume that the gauge symmetries are general covariance, local Lorentz symmetry and Abelian and non-Abelian Yang-Mills symmetries, and that the local functionals of vanishing ghost numbers satisfy a variant of the Kluberg-Stern–Zuber conjecture. We show that if the gauge anomalies are trivial at one loop, for every truncation of the theory there exists a subtraction scheme where they manifestly vanish to all orders, within the truncation. Outside the truncation the cancellation of gauge anomalies can be enforced by fine-tuning local counterterms. The framework of the proof is worked out by combining a recently formulated chiral dimensional regularization with a gauge invariant higher-derivative regularization. If the higher-derivative regularizing terms are placed well beyond the truncation, and the energy scale $\Lambda $ associated with them is kept fixed, the theory is super-renormalizable and has the property that, once the gauge anomalies are canceled at one loop, they manifestly vanish from two loops onwards by simple power counting. When the $\Lambda $ divergences are subtracted away and $\Lambda $ is sent to infinity, the anomaly cancellation survives in a manifest form within the truncation and in a nonmanifest form outside. The standard model coupled to quantum gravity satisfies all the assumptions, so it is free of gauge anomalies to all orders.


Phys. Rev. D 91 (2015) 105016 | DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.91.105016

arXiv: 1501.07014 [hep-th]

Using the Batalin-Vilkovisky formalism, we study the Ward identities and the equations of gauge dependence in potentially anomalous general gauge theories, renormalizable or not. A crucial new term, absent in manifestly nonanomalous theories, is responsible for interesting effects. We prove that gauge invariance always implies gauge independence, which in turn ensures perturbative unitarity. Precisely, we consider potentially anomalous theories that are actually free of gauge anomalies thanks to the Adler-Bardeen theorem. We show that when we make a canonical transformation on the tree-level action, it is always possible to re-renormalize the divergences and re-fine-tune the finite local counterterms, so that the renormalized $\Gamma $ functional of the transformed theory is also free of gauge anomalies, and is related to the renormalized $\Gamma $ functional of the starting theory by a canonical transformation. An unexpected consequence of our results is that the beta functions of the couplings may depend on the gauge-fixing parameters, although the physical quantities remain gauge independent. We discuss nontrivial checks of high-order calculations based on gauge independence and determine how powerful they are.


Phys. Rev. D 92 (2015) 025027 | DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.92.025027

arXiv: 1501.06692 [hep-th]

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

Last update: May 9th 2015, 230 pages



1. Functional integral

  • 1.1 Path integral
    • Schroedinger equation
    • Free particle
  • 1.2 Free field theory
  • 1.3 Perturbative expansion
    • Feynman rules
  • 1.4 Generating functionals, Schwinger-Dyson equations
  • 1.5 Advanced generating functionals
  • 1.6 Massive vector fields
  • 1.7 Fermions

2. Renormalization

  • 2.1 Dimensional regularization
    • 2.1.1 Limits and other operations in $D$ dimensions
    • 2.1.2 Functional integration measure
    • 2.1.3 Dimensional regularization for vectors and fermions
  • 2.2 Divergences and counterterms
  • 2.3 Renormalization to all orders
  • 2.4 Locality of counterterms
  • 2.5 Power counting
  • 2.6 Renormalizable theories
  • 2.7 Composite fields
  • 2.8 Maximum poles of diagrams
  • 2.9 Subtraction prescription
  • 2.10 Regularization prescription
  • 2.11 Comments about the dimensional regularization
  • 2.12 About the series resummation

3. Renormalization group

  • 3.1 The Callan-Symanzik equation
  • 3.2 Finiteness of the beta function and the anomalous dimensions
  • 3.3 Fixed points of the RG flow
  • 3.4 Scheme (in)dependence
  • 3.5 A deeper look into the renormalization group

4. Gauge symmetry

  • 4.1 Abelian gauge symmetry
  • 4.2 Gauge fixing
  • 4.3 Non-Abelian global symmetry
  • 4.4 Non-Abelian gauge symmetry

5. Canonical gauge formalism

  • 5.1 General idea behind the canonical gauge formalism
  • 5.2 Systematics of the canonical gauge formalism
  • 5.3 Canonical transformations
  • 5.4 Gauge fixing
  • 5.5 Generating functionals
  • 5.6 Ward identities

6. Quantum electrodynamics

  • 6.1 Ward identities
  • 6.2 Renormalizability of QED to all orders

7 Non-Abelian gauge field theories

  • 7.1 Renormalizability of non-Abelian gauge theories to all orders
    • Raw subtraction

A. Notation and useful formulas

Read in flash format


We define a modified dimensional-regularization technique that overcomes several difficulties of the ordinary technique, and is specially designed to work efficiently in chiral and parity violating quantum field theories, in arbitrary dimensions greater than 2. When the dimension of spacetime is continued to complex values, spinors, vectors and tensors keep the components they have in the physical dimension, therefore the $\gamma $ matrices are the standard ones. Propagators are regularized with the help of evanescent higher-derivative kinetic terms, which are of the Majorana type in the case of chiral fermions. If the new terms are organized in a clever way, weighted power counting provides an efficient control on the renormalization of the theory, and allows us to show that the resulting chiral dimensional regularization is consistent to all orders. The new technique considerably simplifies the proofs of properties that hold to all orders, and makes them suitable to be generalized to wider classes of models. Typical examples are the renormalizability of chiral gauge theories and the Adler-Bardeen theorem. The difficulty of explicit computations, on the other hand, may increase.


Phys. Rev. D 89 (2014) 125024 | DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.89.125024

arXiv: 1405.3110 [hep-th]

We reconsider the Adler-Bardeen theorem for the cancellation of gauge anomalies to all orders, when they vanish at one loop. Using the Batalin-Vilkovisky formalism and combining the dimensional-regularization technique with the higher-derivative gauge invariant regularization, we prove the theorem in the most general perturbatively unitary renormalizable gauge theories coupled to matter in four dimensions, and identify the subtraction scheme where anomaly cancellation to all orders is manifest, namely no subtractions of finite local counterterms are required from two loops onwards. Our approach is based on an order-by-order analysis of renormalization, and, differently from most derivations existing in the literature, does not make use of arguments based on the properties of the renormalization group. As a consequence, the proof we give also applies to conformal field theories and finite theories.


Eur. Phys. J. C 74 (2014) 3083 | DOI: 10.1140/epjc/s10052-014-3083-0

arXiv: 1402.6453 [hep-th]

Support Renormalization

If you want to support you can spread the word on social media or make a small donation


14B1 D. Anselmi

Read in flash format


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.)