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Lecture 3

Free QFT
David Kazhdan

3.1 Some examples of free classical eld theories. As was explained in Bernstein's
lectures, for any classical eld theory the space Sol of stationary points of Lagrangian
carries a canonical symplectic form, or at least a closed 2-form.
The theory is called free if Sol is isomorphic to a linear space with a constant 2-form
and linear action of the Poincare group. Let us consider some examples.
Example 1. A scalar boson eld in dimension (1; d 1).
A classical eld is a real-valued function on R1;d 1. The Langrangian is given by:

L(') = jd'j2 m2'2:

The space of stationary points is: Sol = f'j' + m2' = 0g. It is linear, the symplectic
form is constant. It is given by: ['1; '2] = ('1 d'2 '2d'1) for '1; '2 2 Sol, where
is a space-type hypersurface in V . By a space-like hypersurface we mean a complete
smooth oriented hypersurface such that the normal vector at each point lies in V+ (for
example the hyperplane ft = constg is space-like). Since ('1d'2 '2d'1) is closed and
suciently rapidly decaying the integral does not depend on the choice of a hypersurface.
(The condition of Schwartz decay in space directions is tacitly imposed on the classical
solutions under consideration throughout the lecture).
Example 2. Spinors. Let V be 10-dimensional, or of any dimension n = 8k +2. Then the
spinor representation S decomposes as S = S +  S , and S +, S are real. There exists a
unique symmetric pairing : S +S + ! V (see x3.16 in Deligne's \Notes on spinors" on this
site). We also have a pairing ( ; ): S +  S ! R and the action map s : S 
V ! S .
The space of classical elds is de ned to be the space of maps: Map(V; R0;1
S +) =
Sol where Sol = Map(V; S +). We de ne Lagrangian by: L( ) = (@ ; ). Here d 2

1(V; R0;1
S +) = (V; R0;1
S +
V ), and @ def= sd 2 (V; R0;1
S ). We have:
Sol = f j@ = 0g, it is a purely odd vector space. Giving a symplectic form on Sol is
equivalent to giving a symmetric form on Sol. The symmetric form is constant and is
given by: ( 1 ; 2 ) = ( 1 ; 2 ) where is a space-type hypersurface, and we use the
isomorphism V ' d 1(V  ) provided by the volume form on V to interpret ( 1 ; 2 ) as
a (d 1)-form on V .
Example 3. Free electro-dynamics in any dimension.
Let M be the space of 1-forms on V modulo the exact forms. The Lagrangian L: M !

d(V ) is as follows:
L( ) =  (d  d) :
We have: Sol = f jd  d = 0g=fexact 1-formsg. We will write down the symplectic form
using Fourier transform. The Fourier transform of the exact sequence
1 (V ) d!
0 !
0 (V )=R ! d
1 (V )

looks as follows:

 S( V )
V !
0 ! S( V ) ! S( V )
where S(V ) is the Schwartz space, and:

 (f )(p) = f (p)p for p 2 V; f 2 S(V );

(G)(p) = (G(p); p)p (p; p)G(p):
Let O0 = fpjp2 = 0; p 6= 0g. Let N denote a vector bundle over O0 , such that Np = p?=Rp.
Lemma. a) For any G 2 Ker  we have G(p) 2 p? for all p 2 O0 .
b) The map Ker  ! (O0 ; N) given by G ! G(p)=Rp is an isomorphism between Sol
and f 2 (O0 ; N)j ( p) = (p)g. The symplectic form [ ; ] on Sol is constant
and is given by [ 1; 2] = Im 1 2.

Remark. It is a useful exercise to nd an expression for the symplectic form [ ; ] in

terms of Fourier transform in examples 1,2 also.
3.2 Cli ord module. Quantization of a free classical eld theory is based on the following
linear algebra construction.
Let H be a real superspace, equipped with an even super-symplectic form [ ; ] :
H  H ! R. Let ClH be the corresponding Cli ord (=Heisenberg) algebra.
A complex polarization of H is an automorphism I : H ! H , preserving [ ; ] and
such that I 2 = id.
De ne the maps i : H ! HC by: i(v) = v  i 1 Iv. Let H = Im i . Then H is a
complex isotropic subspace. We also have an antilinear isomorphism { : H+ ! H . De ne
( ; ): H+  H+ ! C by (h1; h2 ) = 2i [h1; h 2].
Claim. a) ( ; ) is a super-hermitian form on H+ .
b) ( ; ) is positive i : [h; h] > 0 for h 2 H odd f0g and [Ih; h] > 0 for h 2
H even f0g.
Proposition. Let (H; [ ; ]; I ) be as before such that ( ; ) is positive. Then
a) there exists a unique up to unique isomorphism triple (jI ; D;
) where: jI is a
complex representation of ClH on D and
2 D f0g such that:
jI (ClH )(
) = D
jI (H )(
) = 0.
b) There exists a unique positive Hermitian form ( ; )D on D such that (
) = 1
and jI (h) is an antiHermitian operator on D for h 2 H .
Remark. We have an embedding Sym(H+ ) ,! ClH , which induces an isomorphism:
jH+ : Sym(H+)!  D, where j (h) = j (h)(
). The algebra ClH acts on D = Sym(H ) by
H+ I +
di erential operators.
Remark. If H is in nite-dimensional, then the representation depends essentially on the
complex polarization I . For nite dimensional H the L2-completions of representations
constructed via di erent polarizations are isomorphic.
Remark. The above construction for the nite dimensional case is discussed in Deligne's
notes on quantization x3{7.
3.3 Examples of free QFT's.
Scalars. Let H be the space of real solutions of: ' + m2' = 0 and [ ; ] be the form
on H given by ['1; '2] = ('1d'2 '2d'1) (Example 1 above).
To f 2 S(V ) there corresponds a classical observable, i.e. a function on H , given by
h ! hh; f iL2 (V ). So in quantum theory an operator (f ) should be de ned for f 2 S(V ).
Let us construct a positive complex polarization I on (H; [ ; ]). We describe I in
terms of Fourier transform. The Fourier transform gives an isomorphism H = ff 2
SC (Om )jf ( p) = f (p)g, where Om = fp 2 V f0gjp2 = m2g. We have: Om =
O+m t Om (union of 2 connected components). Restriction to O+m de nes an isomorphism
H!  S (O+ ). Since S (O+ ) has natural complex structure and S (O+ )  S (O ) = H is
C m C m C m C m C

an isotropic subspace, we get a positive complex polarization of H . Consider the \canon-

ical" representation jI : ClH ! End D described above. Let H = D be the Hilbert space
completion with respect to the invariant Hermitian form (see Proposition). Since the action
of P on H commutes with I , we get an action of P on H.
We de ne the eld operators : S(V ) ! End(D) as the composition
S(V ) 3 f ! F(f ) ! F(f )jOm j!I EndD
where we consider the restriction F(f )jOm as an element of H .
Let us nally analyze the support of the spectral measure of H considered as a V -
module. We obviously have: Spec  V = O+m , where  denotes the action of P on H+.
Recall that jH+ : Sym H+!  D is an isomorphism.
Hence Spec U V is the closure of the set f0g [ O+m [ O+m + O+m [ : : : where we use the
notation A + B = fa + b j a 2 A; b 2 Bg, and U stands for the representation of P on H.
It is easy to see that Spec U V = f0g t O+m t fp 2 V+jp2  2mg.
Spinors. We keep the notations of Example 2 above. Let H = (f j@ = 0g). (Recall
that  denotes change of parity of a superspace).
A classical observable is associated with f 2 SS (V ), and is given by h ! V (f (v); h(v)) dv.
In Fourier coordinates the classical eld equation becomes: s(p; F( )(p)) = 0. Since
D2 =  we see that for any 2 H : supp(F( ))  O0.
Let A be a subbundle of the trivial bundle over O0 with ber S +, such that Ap  S + =
Ker s(p).
Then H  = ff 2 SC (O0 ; A)jf ( p) = f (p)g. The symplectic form on Sol is the same
as symmetric pairing on H , and it is given by: (f1 ; f2 ) = (f1 (p)p;f2( p)) 0 , where we
use linear dependence of the vectors (f1 (p); f2 ( p)) , p, and denote by (f1 (p)p;f2( p)) the
coecient of proportionality. (This formula is equivalent to the one given in Example 2).
Using the decomposition O0 = O+0 t O0 , we obtain a polarization and the canonical
representation jI : ClH ! End D. If U is, as usually, the action of P on D, then Spec U V =
V +.
The eld operators are also de ned similarly to the above. Namely, for f 2 S(V; S ) the
section {(f ) such that {(f )(p) = s(p; F(f ) O0 (p)) lies in H because s(p)2 = 0 for p 2 O0.
We de ne (f ) = jI ({(f )) 2 End D.
Photones (Free quantum electro-dynamics = free abelian gauge theory). Here Sol  =
ff 2 S(O0 ; N)jf ( p) = f (p)g. Polarization comes again from the decomposition: O0 =
O+ t O . Thus we obtain the canonical representation jI : ClH ! End D.
Recall that in classical situation (Example 3) the space Sol is a subspace in
1(V )=
0(V ). So to any 2-form ! 2
2 (V ) there corresponds a classical gauge-invariant observ-
able: Z

3 ! d ^ !
1 0
Consider the map {:
2(V ) = S2 V ! H = SC (O0 ; N) given by {(!)(p) = ipF(!)(p) 2
p?. Now we de ne the eld map: (!) = jI ({(!)).
3.4 Free QFT of arbitrary spin. A QFT is called free of mass m if the eld operator
(f ) depends only on F(f )jOm . (In other words, the classical eld equation  + m2 = 0 is
satis ed on quantum level).
All examples considered in the previous section are of this kind.
In this section we give a construction of a free QFT of mass m which generalizes these
To describe it we need some preliminaries.
Recall that G = Spin(d 1; 1), and  2 G is the spin-element.
We x the mass of theory m  0. Let St denote the stabilizer of a point p 2 O+m .
If m > 0 then St = Spin(p?)  = Spin(d 1). If m = 0 then St has nontrivial unipotent
radical N and St=N = Spin(p?=Rp)  = Spin(d 2). Let G0 denote a maximal semisimple
subgroup of St. (So G0 = St if m > 0, and G0 = St=N if m = 0).
We x a real representation R of G, and  of G0 . We will view R;  as representations
of real algebraic groups de ned over R.
 can be also viewed as representation of the group St. We x a nonzero morphism
i : RjSt ! .
We do not have to assume that R;  are irreducible, but it is convenient to require that 
acts on R and  by constant, i.e. R and  are sums of irreducible representations of equal
spin. This constant will be denoted by ( 1)spin(R), ( 1)spin() respectively. Obviously
( 1)spin(R) = ( 1)spin().
St denote the subgroup fg 2 Gjg(p) = pg; let G
Let f f0 denote a maximal semisimple

subgroup of Stf. (So G f0 = f

St if m > 0, and G f0 = fSt=N if m = 0). Clearly G0 is a subgroup
of Gf0 of index 2.

More precisely, if m > 0 then G f0  = Pin(n). If m = 0 then G f0 

= (Spin(d 2) 
Z4)=(; 1).
f0 carries the structure of algebraic group over R. Note that the nontrivial connected
component of G f0 has no real points.

We assume that complexi cation of  extends to a representation of G f0 in such a way

that the map i is Gf0 -equivariant. (The representation extends automatically if m = 0 or if

d is even).
Let K be the normalizer in G f0 (R) = G0 (R). Then K
f0 (C ) of the subgroup of real points G

is a compact Lie subgroup in the Lie group G f0 (C ); moreover, K has 2 connected components

and the connected component of 1 is G0 (R).

We have: K = fg 2 G f0 (C )j (g ) 2 SO(d 1; 1)(R)g where  : Spin ! SO is the
Note that K is not the set of real points of Gf0 . More precisely, for g 2 K G0 (R) we

have g = g   .
Since K is compact, the space of C carries a K -invariant Hermitian form h ; i. It
also yields a quadratic form ( ; ), where (x; y) = hx; y i. The quadratic form restricted
to the subspace of real vectors (the space of ) is real and positive de nite.
Now let us return to QFT.
To  there corresponds a G-equivariant real vector bundle A on O+m ; its complexi cation
will be denoted by AC . Let H be the space of Schwartz sections of AC viewed as a real
vector space.
As usual we get the structure of a super-space on H by declaring the parity of H to be
( 1)spin().
The bundle AC carries a G-equivariant Euclidean and Hermitian metrics, obtained from
metrics ( ; ), h ; i on the space of C in the standard way. We will abuse notations by
denoting the metrics on the vector bundle by ( ; ), h ; i also. Of course ( ; )jA
is real and positive.

A super-symplectic form on H is given by: [h1; h2 ] = Im h1; h2 if H is even, and

[h1; h2] = Re h1; h2 if H is odd. The obvious complex structure on H yields the
positive polarization to be denoted I . Thus we get the canonical representation D 3

and its Hilbert space completion H.

To provide the eld map  : SR ! End(D) we rst construct a map { : SR ! H and
then take  = jI  {.
To the morphism i : RjSt !  there corresponds a map  : R ! (A ), where (A ) is
the space of sections.
Now we can de ne {. For f
r 2 SR = S
R we put {(f
r) = F(f )jO+m  (r) where
F stands for Fourier transform as usual.
The data of QFT is constructed.
Remark. In fact the maps {,  are de ned on a larger function space then the space of
Schwartz section SR . Indeed, let F be a Schwartz function on Rd 1. Let f be a generalized
function on V = R  Rd 1 of the form: f = t=t0  F where t is the coordinate on R.
Then it is easy to see that F(f )jO+m is a Schwartz function on the hyperboloid O+m . Thus
{ and  are de ned on the generalized sections of R of the form f  r for f as above and
r 2 R.
Let us now check the axiom ) of Wightman QFT (the space-locality property).
We need the following
Key lemma. For any r1 ; r2 2 R the real-valued function on O+m de ned by Pr1 ;r2 (p) =
((r1 ); (r2 ))jp extends to a polynomial function on Om . This polynomial function is even
if R and  have trivial spin, and odd otherwise.
Proof of the Lemma. We can view A as an algebraic vector bundle on the real algebraic
variety m , and (r) for r 2 R { as an algebraic section of this vector bundle.
Since the metric on A is algebraic as well, the rst part of the claim is clear.
For any g 2 G(C ) such that g(p) = p we have by the de nition
((r1 ); (r2 )) p = ((g(r1 )); (g(r2 )))p = (i(g(r1 )); i(g(r2 )))
In particular the last equality holds for any g 2 K G0 (R).
As was mentioned above for g 2 K G0 (R) we have g 1 g =  . So for such g:

(i(g(r1 )); i(g(r2 ))) = hi(g(r1 )); i(g(r2 ))i = h(i(r1 )); g(i(r2 ))i = hi(r1 ); g 1 g(i(r2 ))i
= hi(r1 );  (i(r2 ))i = ( 1)spin()hi(r1 ); i(r2 )i = ( 1)spin()((r1 ); (r2 ))p
So for r1 ; r2 2 R we proved that ((r1 ); (r2 )) p = ( 1)spin() ((r1 ); (r2 ))p. Since the
map (r1 ; r2 ) ! Pr1;r2 is G-equivariant it follows that the same holds for any p0 2 m+ , and
the Lemma is proven.
Proof of space-locality. It is enough to check that if '1; '2 2 SR are space-like separated
then the scalar product [{('1); {('2 )] vanishes.
Let us take F1; F2 2 S(Rd 1) such that supp(F1) \ supp(F2 ) = ;. Let fj = t=0  Fj
for j = 1; 2. For r1 ; r2 2 R the expression fj  rj is a generalized section of R. As was
mentioned above { is actually de ned on such sections.
Since { and [ ; ] are P -equivariant it sucies to check that [{(f1  r1 ); {(f2  r2)] = 0
for fj ; rj as above.
Put gj = F(fj ). Then the functions gj satisfy gj (p + (t; ~0)) = gj (p), so we can write
gj (t; q) = gj (q) where t 2 R, q 2 Rd 1. We also have gj ( p) = gj (p) since fj is a real
function. So:
[{(f1  r1 ); {(f2  r2 )] = const  g1g2 ( 1)spin()g2g1 ((r1); (r2 )) d
= const  g1(q)g2 (q) ( 1)spin()g2(q)g1 (q) Pr1 ;r2 (jqj; q)  jqj 1dq
Rd 1
(notations of the Key Lemma). It can be rewritten as:
g1(q)g2 (q) ( 1)spin()g1( q)g2( q) Pr1 ;r2 (jqj; q)  jqj 1dq
Rd 1
= (g1(q)g2 (q)) Pr1 ;r2 (jqj; q) ( 1)spin()Pr1 ;r2 (jqj; q)  jqj 1dq
Rd 1
By the Key Lemma
Pr1 ;r2 (jqj; q) ( 1)spin()Pr1 ;r2 (jqj; q) = Pr1 ;r2 (jqj; q) Pr1 ;r2 ( jqj; q)
and Pr1 ;r2 (jqj; q) is a polynomial function.
But then it follows that the function Q(q) = jqj 1(Pr1 ;r2 (jqj; q) Pr1 ;r2 ( jqj; q)) is again
Fourier transform of multiplication by a polynomial function is a di erential operator,
in particular is local. Thus we have:
[{(f1  r1 ); {(f2  r2 )] = (g1 (q)g2 (q))Q(q)dq = (Q(q)  g1; g2)L2 (R d 1)
Rd 1
= (Q^ (F1 ); F2 )L2 (R d 1) =0
where Q^ is the di erential operator with constant coecients corresponding to Q and the
last equality is obvious because F1 ; F2 have separated supports.
Space-locality is proved.
3.5 Wightman functions of a free eld theory; truncated Wightman func-
tions. The next statement characterizes free theories in terms of Wightman functions.
Claim. Let Wn be the Wightman functions of the free scalar QFT of mass m. Then we
have W2(v1 ; v2 ) = F(O+m ) (v1 v2 ); Wn = 0 if n is odd, and
W2k (v1 ; : : : ; v2k ) = W2 (vi1 ; vj1 )W2 (vi2 ; vj2 ) : : : W2 (vik ; vjk );
where the sum is taken over all partitions of f1; : : : ; ng in pairs (i1 ; j1); : : : ; (ik ; jk ), and
ir < j r .
Proof is straightforward.
This statement can be easily generalized to other free QFT's.
It also can be reformulated using the so-called truncated Wightman functions.
Since these objects will be used in the next lecture, let us give their de nition. We set:
X k
Wtrn def
= ( 1)k 1 (k 1)! ` W (v ; vi ; : : : ; vij` j )
=1 j` j i1 2
=(1 ;:::;k )

Here the sum is over all decompositions of f1; ::; ng into the union of disjoint nonempty
subsets 1; ::; k , (the order of 1; ::; k does not matter), and i1 < i2 : : : < ij`j are the
elements of ` .
An equivalent equality is
X k
Wn = Wtrj` j(vi1 ; : : : ; vij` j )
=(1 ;:::;k ) `=1

Corollary. For a free QFT we have Wntr = 0 for n > 2.

3.6 Gaussian measures. One can also easily describe free eld theory in Euclidean
For a free QFT one can make sense of the measure  on the space of tempered distri-
butions discussed in lecture 2 (x2.3); the corresponding measure is Gaussian. Here is the
formal de nition for the case of the scalar theory.
Claim. Let S (e1 ; : : : ; en ) be the Schwinger functions of the free Euclidean scalar QFT
of mass m. Then S (e1 ; : : : ; en ) is the moment of a Gaussian measure m on the space
of tempered distributions S0 (E ) with covariance ( E + m2 ) 1. [So for f 2 S we have
F(m)(f ) = e(( E +m2 ) 1 f;f )
Remark. Gaussian measure on a nite dimensional real vector space H corresponding to
a quadratic form h ; i is characterized by the equalities
@ P
 (1) = 1;  @h = h_ (P )

for any h 2 H , and P 2 Sym(H 0 ) a polynomial function on H . (Here @h@ is a constant

vector eld, and h_ = hh; i is a linear functional on H .)

In our setting of kernel spaces (H = S0 , H 0 = S and hf; f i = (  + m2)f; f ) this is
still so, if one requires that the equality holds for all h for which it makes sense, namely
for all h 2 S  S0 .
Reconstruction of the Hilbert space of a free QFT in terms of the Gaussian measure is
based on the next Lemma.
Let I be a positive polarization of H , [ ; ] and let hh1; h2i = [Ih1; h2 ]. Then we have
an imbedding D = Sym(H+ ) ,! AH de ned by the decomposition HC = H+  H .
Lemma. For F1; F2 2 D we have (F1 ; F2)D =  (F1 F 2)
We nish the lecture with discussion of
3.7 Normal ordering. In general in QFT one is interested in behavior of correlation
functions near diagonals. Naively speaking, we would like to consider along with operator-
valued generalized function (v) also an operator-valued generalized function n(v). As
usual such operator-valued functions should be encoded in correlation functions on Vk
whose \value at (v1 ; : : : ; vk )" equals to (
; n1 (v1 )  : : :  nk (vk )
). If the naive de nition
would work, these correlators would obviously be the restrictions of the original Wightman
function to the corresponding diagonal. Of course this is not possible, since Wightman
functions are singular along diagonals. Techniques to overcome this diculty are discussed
in Witten's lecture 3; here we only present a simple device, which leads to an answer in
the free theory case (see also xx3.2, 3.5 in Witten's lecture 3).
Let (H; ; D;
) be the free scalar QFT. (The assumption that the theory is scalar is
not essential, and made for notational convenience).
For any function f 2 S let us write f = f+ + f where f 2 SC and F(f)jOm = 0.
Then de ne normally ordered power of the eld operator by
: (f )n : def
X n (f )i (f )n i :
a) For any v 2 V , x; y 2 D and f 2 S the limit flim
(: (f )n : (x); y) exists; we will
write (: n(v) : (x); y) def
= flim
(:  ( f )n : x; y ). Thus the correlator ((v1 ); ::; : n (vi ) :; ::; (vn ))
is a well-de ned distribution.
b) If d = 2, then for f 2 S there exists a well-de ned endomorphism : n(f ) :2
End(H) such that (: n(f ) : (x); y) = f (v) (: n(v) : (x); y) dv.

In fact Claim b) is valid for much wider class of 2-dimensional theories than free ones;
see x8.6 of [Glimm-Ja e].
One can de ne normal ordering more algebraically as follows.
Recall that we have H = f'j' + m2n' = 0g, ['1; '2]o= ('1d'2 '2d'1). Consider
a Lagrangian subspace L  H , L = ': @t@ ' t=0 = 0 . Since L is isotropic we have
an embedding: Sym(L) ,! ClH . Then the map F ! jI (F )
induces an isomorphism
jL: Sym(L)!  D (because H = L  H ). Also, the projection along H induces an

isomorphism u: H+!L.
Now consider the endomorphism of Sym L given by the composition of the arrows:

Sym L Sym H+
jL 1- .jH+
We denote this endomorphism by F ! :F : .
a) For ` 2 L we have : n(`) := jI (: `n :). (The LHS is de ned by Remark in x3.4).
n 1
b) F :F : 2  Symk (L) for F 2 SymnL.
c) (jL (:F :) ; jL (G))D = 0 for F 2 SymnL, G 2 Symk (L) k < n.
Lemma. For any F1; F2 2 Sym(L) we have:
(jL(F1 ); jL (F2))D = h ; i (F1  F 2)

Let { 2 End(Sym L) be the second order di erential operator corresponding to the form
h ; i. (So we have: {(ak ) = k(k 1) ha; ai ak 2 for a 2 L.)
Lemma. :F : = exp {2  F .
Corollary. : exp(` ) := exp
_ (`;`) exp(`_), for ` 2 L.

B. Simon, The P ()2 Euclidean (quantum) eld theory; xII.5, Princeton University Press,
For a discussion of the Gaussian measure approach to free QFT see Chapter 3 of loc.
cit. or
J. Glimm, A. Ja e, Quantum Physics. (A functional integral point of view), x6.2, Springer-
Verlag, 1987.