19S1 D. Anselmi
Theories of gravitation




D. Anselmi
From Physics To Life

A journey to the infinitesimally small and back

In English and Italian

Available on Amazon:
US: book | ebook  (in EN)
IT: book | ebook  (in IT)

Recent Papers

Archive for May 2012

We develop a general field-covariant approach to quantum gauge theories. Extending the usual set of integrated fields and external sources to “proper” fields and sources, which include partners of the composite fields, we define the master functional $\Omega$, which collects one-particle irreducible diagrams and upgrades the usual $\Gamma$-functional in several respects. The functional $\Omega$ is determined from its classical limit applying the usual diagrammatic rules to the proper fields. Moreover, it behaves as a scalar under the most general perturbative field redefinitions, which can be expressed as linear transformations of the proper fields. We extend the Batalin-Vilkovisky formalism and the master equation. The master functional satisfies the extended master equation and behaves as a scalar under canonical transformations. The most general perturbative field redefinitions and changes of gauge-fixing can be encoded in proper canonical transformations, which are linear and do not mix integrated fields and external sources. Therefore, they can be applied as true changes of variables in the functional integral, instead of mere replacements of integrands. This property overcomes a major difficulty of the functional $\Gamma$. Finally, the new approach allows us to prove the renormalizability of gauge theories in a general field-covariant setting. We generalize known cohomological theorems to the master functional and show that when there are no gauge anomalies all divergences can be subtracted by means of parameter redefinitions and proper canonical transformations.


Eur. Phys. J. C 73 (2013) 2363 | DOI: 10.1140/epjc/s10052-013-2363-4

arXiv:1205.3862 [hep-th]

We study a new generating functional of one-particle irreducible diagrams in quantum field theory, called master functional, which is invariant under the most general perturbative changes of field variables. The functional $\Gamma$ does not transform as a scalar under the transformation law inherited from its very definition, although it does transform as a scalar under an unusual transformation law. The master functional, on the other hand, is the Legendre transform of an improved functional W = ln Z with respect to the sources coupled to both elementary and composite fields. The inclusion of certain improvement terms in W and Z is necessary to make this transform well defined. The master functional behaves as a scalar under the transformation law inherited from its very definition. Moreover, it admits a proper formulation, obtained extending the set of integrated fields to the so-called proper fields, which allows us to work without passing through Z, W or $\Gamma$. In the proper formulation the classical action coincides with the classical limit of the master functional, and correlation functions and renormalization are calculated applying the usual diagrammatic rules to the proper fields. Finally, the most general change of field variables, including the map relating bare and renormalized fields, is a linear redefinition of the proper fields.


Eur. Phys. J. C 73 (2013) 2385 | DOI: 10.1140/epjc/s10052-013-2385-y

arXiv:1205.3584 [hep-th]

Consider a functional integral
\mathcal{I}=\int [\mathrm{d}\varphi ]\hspace{0.02in}\exp \left( -S(\varphi)+\int J\left( \varphi -bU\right) \right) ,
where $U(\varphi ,bJ)$ is a local function of $\varphi$ and $J$, and $b$ is a constant. Then there exists a perturbatively local change of variables
\varphi =\varphi (\varphi ^{\prime },b,bJ)=\varphi ^{\prime }+\mathcal{O}(b),
expressed as a series expansion in $b$, such that
\mathcal{I}=\int [\mathrm{d}\varphi ^{\prime }]\hspace{0.02in}\exp \left(
-S^{\prime }(\varphi ^{\prime },b)+\int J\varphi ^{\prime }\right) ,
where $S^{\prime }(\varphi ^{\prime },b)=S(\varphi (\varphi^{\prime },b,0))$.

Read the proof →

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]

The idea to create this website came while completing a book about renormalization, which will be freely readable at this page once ready. I realized that the best way to disseminate knowledge, nowadays, is not to write a book. One must at least make the book “alive”, which is possible, for example, with the help of a website. I figured out that since a website is much more versatile than a book, it allows me to provide a much richer service.

Why renormalization? Because it is the main interest of my research, and because I think it has a lot to teach us, in a broad sense.

Renormalization is one of the deepest aspects of quantum field theory, and quantum field theory is one of the greatest successes of theoretical physics, certainly the most advanced achievement of high-energy particle physics.

In recent years several aspects of quantum field theory have been neglected, and the attention of theoretical physicists has been effectively diverted towards model building and other, more “horizontal”, approaches. Renormalization and several other important topics have been buried under a huge number of scientific papers on topics of questionable relevance. Existing repositories and archives do not even offer efficient searching tools. They do not allow visitors to single out papers about renormalization or other topics that are worth of special attention.

Nowadays technology allows us to copy, and save, and backup. This gives us the impression that no knowledge is at risk to be lost.  In a variety of unfortunate circumstances, several times in the past huge amounts of knowledge have been lost or buried underground and forgot there for a long time. Sometimes the lost knowledge was uncovered centuries later, some other times it was lost forever. We know that this cannot happen today, in principle.

Till a decade ago, I was convinced that I did not need to insert the words “in principle” at the end of this sentence. However, on second thought, burying something underground is not very different from drowning it under the huge amount of questionable “information” that is normally produced and circulates on the internet. In both cases knowledge is still there, in both cases it needs to be discovered again, otherwise it is lost forever. In this respect, search engines are totally useless, since they mostly point to what is popular and liked by people, but they have no way to identify what is relevant.

These observations tell us that science is all but safe today. If knowledge can be forgot, it is easy to enter the path that leads to regress.  We do not just risk to loose knowledge, actually, we also risk to forget the method to make progress and generate further knowledge. Very much like life, knowledge can be preserved only producing new knowledge. What new knowledge is produced today in theoretical physics? How many people can claim that theoretical physics is in good shape? And physics in general? and science?

One of the claims of this site is that, actually, the decline started long ago. We can reasonably say that the new era began around the early 1970s, when progress in theoretical physics reached its apex, then unexpectedly slowed down and eventually stopped. Since then theoretical problems have become more and more challenging. Partially because of this, but not only, wrong methods have been adopted to guide the scientific research, as well as wrong criteria to select and hire new people. Little by little the involution contaminated more and wider areas of research. For many reasons, it does not sound incorrect to dubb the era we have entered in “The New Middle Ages“. Probably becoming aware of this situation will not be enough to stop the decline, but it is the only hope we have.

So, I have enriched the initial project with more ambitious goals, to understand what it going on, discuss about the present situation and search for wayouts. If yuo feel you have ideas, you can help

If you wish to donate money for the maintenance of this site just buy the ebook or printed versions of the book Renormalization, as soon as it will be available.

For queries and comments about this site: r enor mal ize@r enor mal izat ion.c om

Search this site

YouTube Channel

Quantum Gravity Youtube Channel Quantum Gravity Quantum Gravity - Youtube Channel


14B1 D. Anselmi

Course on renormalization, taught in 2015.

Last update: September 15th 2023, 242 pages

The final (2023) edition is vaibable on Amazon:


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

The pdf file of the 2015 Edition is available here: PDF