Recent theorems

Recent Papers

Using the background field method and the Batalin-Vilkovisky formalism, we prove a key theorem on the cohomology of perturbatively local functionals of arbitrary ghost numbers, in renormalizable and nonrenormalizable quantum field theories whose gauge symmetries are general covariance, local Lorentz symmetry, non-Abelian Yang-Mills symmetries and Abelian gauge symmetries. Interpolating between the background field approach and the usual, nonbackground approach by means of a canonical transformation, we take advantage of the properties of both approaches and prove that a closed functional is the sum of an exact functional plus a functional that depends only on the physical fields and possibly the ghosts. The assumptions of the theorem are the mathematical versions of general properties that characterize the counterterms and the local contributions to the potential anomalies. This makes the outcome a theorem on the cohomology of renormalization, rather than the whole local cohomology. The result supersedes numerous involved arguments that are available in the literature.


Phys. Rev. D 93 (2016) 065034 | DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.93.065034

arXiv: 1511.01244 [hep-th]

We study some properties of the canonical transformations in classical mechanics and quantum field theory and give a number of practical formulas concerning their generating functions. First, we give a diagrammatic formula for the perturbative expansion of the composition law around the identity map. Then, we propose a standard way to express the generating function of a canonical transformation by means of a certain “componential” map, which obeys the Baker-Campbell-Hausdorff formula. We derive the diagrammatic interpretation of the componential map, work out its relation with the solution of the Hamilton-Jacobi equation and derive its time-ordered version. Finally, we generalize the results to the Batalin-Vilkovisky formalism, where the conjugate variables may have both bosonic and fermionic statistics, and describe applications to quantum field theory.


Eur. Phys. J. C 76 (2016) 49 | DOI: 10.1140/epjc/s10052-015-3874-y

arXiv: 1511.00828 [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]

The properties of quantum gravity are reviewed from the point of view of renormalization. Various attempts to overcome the problem of nonrenormalizability are presented, and the reasons why most of them fail for quantum gravity are discussed. Interesting possibilities come from relaxing the locality assumption, which can inspire the investigation of a largely unexplored sector of quantum field theory. Another possibility is to work with infinitely many independent couplings, and search for physical quantities that only depend on a finite subset of them. In this spirit, it is useful to organize the classical action of quantum gravity, determined by renormalization, in a convenient way. Taking advantage of perturbative local field redefinitions, we write the action as the sum of the Hilbert term, the cosmological term, a peculiar scalar that is important only in higher dimensions, plus invariants constructed with at least three Weyl tensors. We show that the FRLW configurations, and many other locally conformally flat metrics, are exact solutions of the field equations in arbitrary dimensions $d>3$. If the metric is expanded around such configurations the quadratic part of the action is free of higher-time derivatives. Other well-known metrics, such as those of black holes, are instead affected in nontrivial ways by the classical corrections of quantum origin.


Mod. Phys. Lett. A 30 (2015) 1540004 | DOI: 10.1142/S0217732315400040

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

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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]

We investigate the background field method with the Batalin-Vilkovisky formalism, to generalize known results, study parametric completeness and achieve a better understanding of several properties. In particular, we study renormalization and gauge dependence to all orders. Switching between the background field approach and the usual approach by means of canonical transformations, we prove parametric completeness without making use of cohomological theorems, namely show that if the starting classical action is sufficiently general all divergences can be subtracted by means of parameter redefinitions and canonical transformations. Our approach applies to renormalizable and non-renormalizable theories that are manifestly free of gauge anomalies and satisfy the following assumptions: the gauge algebra is irreducible and closes off shell, the gauge transformations are linear functions of the fields, and closure is field-independent. Yang-Mills theories and quantum gravity in arbitrary dimensions are included, as well as effective and higher-derivative versions of them, but several other theories, such as supergravity, are left out.


Phys. Rev. D 89 (2014) 045004 | DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.89.045004

arXiv: 1311.2704 [hep-th]

Let $S(\Phi,U,K,K_{U})$ denote the solution of the master equation $(S,S)=0$, where $\{\Phi ^{A},U\}$ are the fields and $\{K_{A},K_{U}\}$ are the sources coupled to the $\Phi ^{A}$- and $U$-gauge transformations. If we replace $U$ with the solution $U^{*}(\Phi ,K,K_{U})$ of the $U$-field equations
\frac{\delta _{r}S}{\delta U}=0,
then the action
S^{*}(\Phi ,K,K_{U})=S(\Phi ,U^{*}(\Phi ,K,K_{U}),K,K_{U})
satisfies the master equation $(S^{*},S^{*})=0$ in the reduced set of fields and sources $\Phi,K$.

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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.)