Register to reply 
Functional integral theorem 
Share this thread: 
#1
Apr1612, 11:09 PM

P: 354

I've been watching Sidney Coleman's QFT lectures (http://www.physics.harvard.edu/about/Phys253.html). I've gotten up to his discussion of functional integration, and I have some questions.
He starts out by discussing a finitedimensional integral of a Gaussian function: [itex]\int{\frac{d^n x}{(2\pi)^{n/2}}e^{\frac{1}{2}xAx}} = (det A)^{1/2}[/itex], where [itex]x[/itex] is an ndimensional vector, and [itex]A[/itex] an ndimensional symmetric matrix. So far, that makes senseif you diagonalize [itex]A[/itex], it just turns into the product of [itex]n[/itex] Gaussian integrals. He then goes on to discuss the integral of a polynomial times a Gaussian, [itex]\int{\frac{d^n x}{(2\pi)^{n/2}}P(x)e^{\frac{1}{2}xAx}}[/itex], where [itex]P(x)[/itex] is a polynomial. Seemingly out of nowhere, he gives the result of this integral as [itex]P(\frac{\partial}{\partial b})(det A)^{1/2}[/itex]. I have absolutely no idea where this comes from. Google is turning up bits and pieces of information on this, but nothing I can make a complete picture out of. The best I've been able to work out is that it's in some way related to differentiating under the integration sign, but I can't quite put the pieces together. This is clearly going to become important in the subsequent sections, where we're going to go on to develop the path integral formulation of QFT, so I'd really like to figure this out. Can anybody shed any light on how this works? 


#2
Apr1612, 11:45 PM

Sci Advisor
P: 1,918

Check out
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaussian_integral especially the section titled "Integrals of similar form". Zee's QFT textbook also covers it a bit, iirc. 


#3
Apr1712, 07:08 AM

Sci Advisor
HW Helper
P: 1,333

Near as I can tell, there are some missing pieces to the formula you wrote. Perhaps these were not copied correctly in the notes?
The general expressions is [tex] f(A,b) = \int \frac{d^n x}{(2\pi)^{n/2}} \exp{\left(\frac{x A x}{2} + b x\right)} = \left(\det{A}\right)^{1/2} \exp{\left(\frac{b A^{1} b}{2}\right)}. [/tex] The final equality follows by completing the square under the integral and then shifting the integration variable. Now assuming that you can exchange integration and differentiation you can write [tex] \int \frac{d^n x}{(2\pi)^{n/2}} x^k \exp{\left(\frac{x A x}{2}\right)} = \int \frac{d^n x}{(2\pi)^{n/2}} \left[\frac{\partial^k}{\partial b^k} \exp{\left(\frac{x A x}{2}+bx\right)}\right]_{b=0} = \left[\frac{\partial^k}{\partial b^k} f(A,b) \right]_{b=0}. [/tex] The expression for general P then follows from the Taylor expansion of P. There is some indexology that I have left schematic, but let me know if you have trouble working it out. Also, note that if P has an infinite Taylor expansion then the exchange of summation and integration may not be valid i.e. one could use P(d/db) inside the integral but not outside it. 


#4
Apr1712, 09:36 AM

P: 354

Functional integral theorem
Ahh, that's where the [itex]b[/itex] comes from. Yeah, he added a linear term earlier on in the lecture when discussing the integral of a generalized Gaussian, but by the time we got to this point, he'd absorbed everything into a general quadratic form [itex]e^{Q(x)}[/itex], so I didn't realize that was the [itex]b[/itex] we were talking about. I didn't include it in my initial description because I didn't realize it was relevant, but now I see what's going on.
Thank you very muchthis makes perfect sense now. 


Register to reply 
Related Discussions  
Calculation of a particular functional (path) integral  Quantum Physics  0  
A functional that depends on an integral?  Calculus  3  
Functional integral (semiclassic formula)  Quantum Physics  2  
General theorem for Functional dependence  Calculus & Beyond Homework  0  
Path integral over probability functional  Advanced Physics Homework  0 