## Lee-Wick models

We reconsider the Lee-Wick (LW) models and compare their properties to the properties of the models that contain purely virtual particles. We argue against the LW premise that unstable particles can be removed from the sets of incoming and outgoing states in scattering processes. The removal leads to a non-Hermitian classical limit, besides clashing with the observation of the muon. If, on the other hand, all the states are included, the LW models have a Hamiltonian unbounded from below or negative norms. Purely virtual particles, on the contrary, lead to a Hermitian classical limit and are absent from the sets of incoming and outgoing states without implications on the observation of long-lived unstable particles. We give a *vademecum* to summarize the properties of most options to treat abnormal particles. We study a method to remove the LW ghosts only partially, by saving the physical particles they contain. Specifically, we replace a LW ghost with a certain superposition of a purely virtual particle and an ordinary particle, and drop only the former from the sets of the external states. The trick can be used to make the Pauli-Villars fields consistent and observable, without sending their masses to infinity, or to build a finite QED, by tweaking the original Lee-Wick construction. However, it has issues with general covariance, so it cannot be applied as is to quantum gravity, where a manifestly covariant decomposition requires the introduction of a massive spin-2 multiplet.

Phys. Rev. D 105 (2022) 125017 | DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.105.125017

Talk given by Marco Piva at the conference “**Avenues of quantum field theory in curved spacetime**“, Modena, Sept 9th, 2019

Talk given at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Southampton University, UK, on Nov 16th, 2018

I introduce the concept of fake particle and study how it is used to formulate a consistent theory of quantum gravity. Fakeons arise from a new quantization prescription, alternative to the Feynman one, for the poles of higher-derivative theories, which avoids the problem of ghosts. The fake particles mediate interactions and simulate true particles in many situations. Nevertheless, they are not asymptotic states and cannot be detected directly. The Wick rotation and the S matrix are regionwise analytic and the amplitudes can be calculated in all regions starting from the Euclidean one by means of an unambiguous, but nonanalytic operation. By reconciling renormalizability and unitarity in higher-derivative theories, the models containing both true and fake particles are good candidates to explain quantum gravity. In pole position is the unique theory that is strictly renormalizable. One of the major physical predictions due to the fakeons is the violation of microcausality. I discuss the classical limit of the theory and the acausal corrections to the Einstein equations.

We investigate the properties of fakeons in quantum gravity at one loop. The theory is described by a graviton multiplet, which contains the fluctuation $h_{\mu \nu }$ of the metric, a massive scalar $\phi $ and the spin-2 fakeon $\chi _{\mu \nu }$. The fields $\phi $ and $\chi _{\mu \nu }$ are introduced explicitly at the level of the Lagrangian by means of standard procedures. We consider two options, where $\phi $ is quantized as a physical particle or a fakeon, and compute the absorptive part of the self-energy of the graviton multiplet. The width of $\chi _{\mu \nu }$, which is negative, shows that the theory predicts the violation of causality at energies larger than the fakeon mass. We address this issue and compare the results with those of the Stelle theory, where $\chi _{\mu \nu }$ is a ghost instead of a fakeon.

J. High Energy Phys. 11 (2018) 21 | DOI: 10.1007/JHEP11(2018)021

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.

J. High Energ. Phys. 05 (2018) 27 | DOI: 10.1007/JHEP05(2018)027

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

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.

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

We study the perturbative unitarity of the Lee-Wick models, formulated as nonanalytically Wick rotated Euclidean theories. The complex energy plane is divided into disconnected regions and the values of a loop integral in the various regions are related to one another by a nonanalytic procedure. We show that the one-loop diagrams satisfy the expected, unitary cutting equations in each region: only the physical degrees of freedom propagate through the cuts. The goal can be achieved by working in suitable subsets of each region and proving that the cutting equations can be analytically continued as a whole. We make explicit calculations in the cases of the bubble and triangle diagrams and address the generality of our approach. We also show that the same higher-derivative models violate unitarity if they are formulated directly in Minkowski spacetime.

Phys. Rev. D 96 (2017) 045009 | DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.96.045009

The Lee-Wick models are higher-derivative theories that are claimed to be unitary thanks to a peculiar cancelation mechanism. In this paper, we provide a new formulation of the models, to clarify several aspects that have remained quite mysterious, so far. Specifically, we define them as nonanalytically Wick rotated Euclidean theories. The complex energy plane is divided into disconnected regions, which can be related to one another by a well defined, albeit nonanalytic procedure. Working in a generic Lorentz frame, the models are intrinsically equipped with the right recipe to treat the pinchings of the Lee-Wick poles, with no need of external ad hoc prescriptions. We describe these features in detail by calculating the one-loop bubble diagram and explaining how the key properties generalize to more complicated diagrams. The physical results of our formulation are different from those of the previous ones. The unusual behaviors of the physical amplitudes lead to interesting phenomenological predictions.

J. High Energy Phys. 06 (2017) 066 | DOI: 10.1007/JHEP06(2017)066

The cutting equations are diagrammatic identities that are used to prove perturbative unitarity in quantum field theory. In this paper, we derive algebraic, upgraded versions of them. Differently from the diagrammatic versions, the algebraic identities also holds for propagators with arbitrary, nonvanishing widths. In particular, the cut propagators do not need to vanish off shell. The new approach provides a framework to address unsolved problems of perturbative quantum field theory and a tool to investigate perturbative unitarity in higher-derivative theories that are relevant to the problem of quantum gravity, such as the Lee-Wick models and the fakeon models.

Ann. Phys. 394 (2018) 294 | DOI: 10.1016/j.aop.2018.04.034