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Continuous symmetries and conserved currents

based on S-22

Consider a set of scalar fields

, and a lagrangian density

lets make an infinitesimal change:

variation of the action:

we would get
equations of motion

Emmy Noether

thus we find:

this is called Noether current; now we have:

= 0 if eqs. of motion are satisfied

if a set of infinitesimal transformations leaves the lagrangian unchanged,

, the Noether current is conserved!
charge density

current density

Consider a theory of a complex scalar field:


is left invariant by:

U(1) transformation
(transformation by a unitary 1x1 matrix)

in terms of two real scalar fields we get:

and the U(1) transformation above is equivalent to:

SO(2) transformation
(transformation by an orthogonal 2x2 matrix with determinant = +1)

infinitesimal form of


we treat


as independent fields

and the current is:


repeating the same for the SO(2) transformation:

the Noether current is:

which is equivalent to


Lets define the Noether charge:

we find:

using Gausss law to write the volume integral of
a surface integral and assuming
on that surface

Q is constant in time!

using free field expansions, we get:

for an interacting theory these formulas as valid at any given time

counts the number of a particles minus the number of b particles;

it is time independent and so the scattering amplitudes do not change
the value of Q; in Feynman diagrams Q is conserved in every vertex.

Schwinger-Dyson equations:
The path integral

doesnt change if we change variables

thus we have:

assuming the measure

is invariant under the change of variables

taking n functional derivatives with respect to

and setting

we get:



is arbitrary, we can drop it together with the integral over

since the path integral computes vacuum expectation values of T-ordered

products, we have:

Schwinger-Dyson equations
for a free field theory of one scalar field we have:
SD eq. for n=1:
is a Greens function for the Klein-Gordon operator
as we already know

in general Schwinger-Dyson equations imply

thus the classical equation of motion is satisfied by a quantum field inside a

correlation function, as far as its spacetime argument differs from those of
all other fields.
if this is not the case we get extra contact terms


Ward-Takahashi identity:
For a theory with a continuous symmetry we can consider transformations
that result in

summing over a
and dropping the integral over

Ward-Takahashi identity
thus, conservation of the Noether current holds in the quantum theory,
with the current inside a correlation function, up to contact terms (that
depend on the infinitesimal transformation).

Another use of Noether current:

Consider a transformation of fields that change the lagrangian density by a
total divergence:
there is still a conserved current:

e.g. space-time translations:

we get:

stress-energy or energy-momentum tensor


for a theory of a set of real scalar fields:

we get:

in particular:

hamiltonian density

then by Lorentz symmetry the momentum density must be:

plugging in the field expansions, we get:

as expected

The energy-momentum four-vector is:

Recall, we defined the space-time translation operator

so that

we can easily verify it; for an infinitesimal transformation it becomes:

it is straightforward to verify this by using the canonical commutation

relations for

The same procedure can be repeated for Lorentz transformations:

the resulting conserved current is:

antisymmetric in the last two

indices as a result of
being antisymmetric

the conserved charges associated with this current are:

generators of the Lorentz group

again, one can check all the commutators...