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June 12, 2008

A Groupoid Approach to Quantization

Posted by Urs Schreiber

Eli Hawkins kindly points me to his work

Eli Hawkins
A groupoid approach to quantization

in which he argues that the right way to think of geometric quantization of Poisson manifolds is in terms of forming convolution algebras (aka category algebras) of symplectic groupoids.

His article gives a nice quick review of geometric quantization and its technical problems, and then describes the proposed alternative formulation in terms of groupoid algebras.

While his emphasis is on the differential geometric technical details, this is in spirit close to the point of view described by John Baez for the finite version (finite sets instead of manifolds) in

Quantization and Cohomology (Week 17): Getting Hilbert spaces and operator algebras from categories.

Quantization and Cohomology (Week 18): Building a Hilbert space from a category C equipped with an “amplitude” functor.

While typing this I get the information that Eli will lecture on this here at HIM in Bonn next week:

Nonommutative Geometry Seminars

Friday, June 20, 14:00, HIM Lecture Hall (Pop. Allee 45)
Friday, June 27, 14:00, HIM Lecture Hall (Pop. Allee 45)

Speaker: Eli Hawkins (HIM)
Title: Geometric Quantization and Groupoids


The mathematical idea of (strict deformation) quantization is to deform from a commutative algebra of functions on a manifold to a noncommutative C *C^*-algebra. This is an abstraction of the transition from classical to quantum physics. In part 1 of this talk, I will describe different geometric examples of quantization, constructed using geometric quantization and groupoids. To describe these examples, I will explain prequantization, polarization, Lie groupoids, Lie algebroids, and convolution algebras.

In part 2, I will show how these examples can be unified through a general construction using symplectic groupoids. This involves my new concept of groupoid polarization. This general construction is still incomplete, but it holds the possibility of quantizing most Poisson manifolds.

A word on geometric quantization.

Let me quickly recall what geometric quantization is about:

You all know that the Hilbert space of states of a particle charged under a hermitean line bundle with connection (EX,)(E \to X, \nabla) on a Riemannian manifold XX is that of square-integrable sections of EE: Z()=Γ 2(E). Z(\bullet) = \Gamma^2(E) \,.

Sometimes it is useful to consider the situation not on XX but on the cotangent bundle π:T *XX \pi : T^* X \to X – the phase space – and one wishes to concentrate on the pulled back bundle (π *ET X,π *). (\pi^* E \to T^ X, \pi^* \nabla) \,. But since this now has more sections than the original bundle had we need to keep some information about XX around to be able to cut down the space of sections of π *E\pi^* E back to something isomorphic to Γ 2(E)\Gamma^2(E). A slick way to do this is to notice that we can add to the pulled back connection π *\pi^* \nabla the canonical 1-form αΩ 1(T *X)\alpha \in \Omega^1(T^* X), defined by α:(vT ωT *X)ω(π *(v)) \alpha : (v \in T_\omega T^* X) \mapsto \omega(\pi_*(v)) .

(See for instance the beginning of That shift in dimension for a related discussion.)

This way, the line bundle with the modified connection (π *E,π *+α) (\pi^* E, \pi^* \nabla + \alpha) is guaranteed to have a curvature 2-form F π *+α=π *F +dα F_{\pi^* \nabla + \alpha} = \pi^* F_\nabla + d\alpha which has the special property that it is not only closed, as all curvature 2-forms, but also nondegenerate in that ω(,):TT *XΛ 2T *X \omega(-,\cdot) : T T^*X \to \Lambda^2 T^* X is a fiberwise isomorphism.

Over a contractible patch UXU \subset X with coordinates {q i:X}\{q^i : X \to \mathbb{R}\} and induced coordinates {q i,p i:T *UU× n}\{q^i, p_i : T^* U \simeq U \times \mathbb{R}^n \to \mathbb{R}\} of the cotangent bundle α\alpha has the simple form α= ip idq i \alpha = \sum_i p_i d q^i (see the recent discussion here for more and generalizations on this) and the symplectic curvature 2-form is ω:=dα= idp idq i+(F ) ijdq idq j \omega := d \alpha = \sum_i d p_i \wedge d q^i + (F_\nabla)_{ij} d q^i \wedge d q^j so that the fiberwise isomorphism induced by ω\omega is essentially just that which comes from exchanging the two factors in T * n n× nT^* \mathbb{R}^n \simeq \mathbb{R}^n \times \mathbb{R}^n.

This makes it clear that the original sections of EE correspond to those sections of π *E\pi^* E which are constant along the fiber directions – independent, locally, of the p ip_i – and that we can express this as follows:

The sections of EE correspond to those sections of π *E\pi^* E which are maximally covariantly constant without being trivial.

Namely choose any integrable distribution FTT *XF \subset T T^* X, i.e. a subspace of vectors in each fiber such that these subspaces glue to a smooth subbundle whose sections are closed under the bracket of vector fields, with the property that

- this distribution is isotropic with respect to ω\omega, i.e. ω| F=0\omega|_F = 0

- this distribution is maximal with this property: no vector can be added to FF without destroying this property

then this distribution is called a polarization and

The sections of EE correspond to those sections of π *E\pi^* E which are covariantly constant along all vFv \in F: ψπ *E,(π *+α) vFψ=0 \psi \in \pi^* E, \, (\pi^*\nabla + \alpha)_{v \in F} \psi = 0

(To quickly see this notice that in local coordinates we can choose for instance in particular F=p i iF = \langle \frac{\partial}{\partial p_i}\rangle_i .)

So we found the following way of talking about the space of states of the charged particle on XX:

1) pull the situation back to phase space T *XT^* X;

2) modify the connection of the pulled back bundle such that the curvature 2-form becomes non-degenerate and hence symplectic.

3) The original space of states is that of maximally covariantly constant sections of the pulled back bundle with the modified connection.

(Here the last statement is true only modulo some issues arising with dealing with the integration measure. See the discussion on pages 10-11 on Eli Hawkins’s article for more on that.)

So, finally, geometric quantization is the process of making sense of this situation after forgetting step 1). More generally, the process of making sense of this when we are just handed any space carrying a symplectic integral 2-form, which need not be the cotangent bundle of some underlying space.

Such a symplectic manifold is a classical phase space and geometric quantization says that a quantum space of states obtained from this is

- choosing a line bundle with connection realizing the integral (and symplectic) 2-form;

- choosing a polarization of the symplectic (and integral) 2-form;

- forming the space of sections covariantly constant along the polarization.

and dealing with finding an inner product on that space and turning it into a Hilbert space.

Given that Hilbert space, the algebra of observables is the C *C^*-algebra of bounded operators on it.

Eli Hawkins’ proposal

Eli Hawkins points out that there is a shortcut to this procedure if one is just interested in the algebra of observables:

the symplectic form ω\omega gives the cotangent bundle of any space the structure of a Lie algebroid. This Lie algebroid integrates to some simply connected Lie groupoid or various quotients of that. This is naturally a symplectic Lie groupoid. The presence of the line bundle gives rise to a central extension of that Lie groupoid. And finally, that’s, as far as I understand, Eli’s main contribution here, the polarization gives rise to a notion of groupoid polarization.

And with all that in hand, the algebra of observables is nothing but the polarized convolution algebra/category algebra of the centrally extended symplectic groupoid.

A symplectic groupoid should be a groupoid internal to symplectic manifolds, though some slight variants are used here. The important point to notice to quickly see how the above can make sense is this:

the simply connected groupoid integrating the tangent Lie algebroid of a manifold XX is Π 1(X)\Pi_1(X). A quotient of this which still integrates the tangent Lie algebroid is the pair groupoid X×XX \times X. If XX is a symplectic manifold, then X×XX \times X is naturally a symplectic groupoid, where the symplectic structure on the space of morphisms is the pullback of the one downstairs by the source map minus the pullback by the target map.

Now, the convolution algebra/category algebra of the pair groupoid of a finite set is just the matrix algebra on the vector spaces spanned by that finite set, which is the algebra of endomorphisms of that vector space. Eli Hawkins’ proposal is a generalization of this fact to the case that

- finite sets are replaced by manifolds

- the twist induced by the line bundle classified by the symplectic form is taken into account

- the polarization induced by that symplectic form is taken into account.

I have to run now. Maybe more later.

Posted at June 12, 2008 2:04 PM UTC

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2 Comments & 3 Trackbacks

Re: A Groupoid Approach to Quantization

Looks very interesting; I like this approach. Looking forward to your report-back from the lectures.

Posted by: Bruce Bartlett on June 12, 2008 9:21 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: A Groupoid Approach to Quantization

Looks very interesting; I like this approach.

Yes, he might be onto something there.

Looking forward to your report-back from the lectures.

I’ll try my best.

Did you have a look at the article? Two questions I want to ask as soon as I get the time:

1) hopefully the convolution algebra of sections of the twisting line bundle is essentially the same as the convolution algebra of functions on the centrally extended groupoid. Because the latter looks more fundamental to me.

2) In John’s discussion of this situation one point was that from the point of view of these convolution algebras the path integral is essentially the Hom-functor, in a way. I am wondering if Eli’s diff geometric approach helps make that a bit more precise for the non-finite case.

Posted by: Urs Schreiber on June 13, 2008 9:29 AM | Permalink | Reply to this
Read the post An Exercise in Groupoidification: The Path Integral
Weblog: The n-Category Café
Excerpt: A remark on the path integral in view of groupoidification and Sigma-model quantization.
Tracked: June 13, 2008 6:27 PM
Read the post Eli Hawkins on Geometric Quantization, I
Weblog: The n-Category Café
Excerpt: Some basics and some aspects of geometric quantization. With an emphasis on the geometric quantization of duals of Lie algebras and duals of Lie algebroids.
Tracked: June 20, 2008 5:07 PM
Read the post Eli Hawkins on Geometric Quantization, II
Weblog: The n-Category Café
Excerpt: Eli Hawkins explains his method of getting a quantum algebra from the convolution algebra of sections on a symplectic groupoid.
Tracked: June 27, 2008 5:43 PM

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