What is the right solution?


Sometime it is quite interesting to turn back to well-done books to refresh some ideas. This happened to me with Smilga’s book reading again the chapter on classical solutions of Yang-Mills equations. This chapter is greatly important and the reason is quantum field theory. At our undergraduate courses, when we were firstly exposed to quantum field theory we learned that we have to be able to solve the free equations of motion to start quantization of a theory. Indeed, a free theory is generally easy to quantize while some difficulties could appear with gauge theories. But, anyhow, this easiness arises from the Gaussian form the generating functional takes.

When we turn our attention to Yang-Mills theory we have to cope with the nonlinearities appearing in the equations of motion. At first, being not able to solve them exactly, we can consider solutions identical to their Abelian counterpart that is the electromagnetic field. It is easy to verify that both equations of motion can share identical solutions of free plane waves with a dispersion relation of massless particles. To get them you have to properly select a set of components and you are granted that these classical solutions indeed exist. These solutions are well-known and, when we quantize the theory, we recognize them as describing gluons. But when you quantize for this case you immediately recognize that your computations hold when the coupling appearing in the self-interaction terms is going to zero. You are not able to recover any mass gap and this kind of computations does not appear to help to describe low-energy QCD. But you get a formidable agreement with experiments at higher energies and this is where asymptotic freedom sets in. So, quantization of Yang-Mills theory starting with this kind of solutions says us that these are the right ones for the high-energy limit of the theory when the coupling decreases to zero and all our computations are mathematically consistent.

Now, when we consider the low-energy limit we are in trouble. The reason is that we are not able to solve the equations of motion when the coupling is too large and we are forced to consider them in full with all the nonlinearities in the proper place. But here again Smilga’s book comes to rescue. If you choose judiciously the components of the field and ignore space dependence retaining only time, you will get regular exact solutions that are represented by elliptic Jacobi functions. These are nonlinear standing waves. But looking at them in this way does not help too much. We need also space dependence if we want to extract some physical meaning from these solutions. This is indeed possible looking at a quartic massless scalar field. A quartic massless scalar field with an equation of motion


admits the following exact solution

\phi(x)=\mu\left(\frac{2}{\lambda}\right)^\frac{1}{4}{\rm sn}(p\cdot x+\theta,i)

where \mu and \theta are two integrations constants and {\rm sn} is a Jacobi elliptic function. But this holds provided the following dispersion relation does hold


that is the one of  a free massive particle! So, a massless classical theory produced massive solutions due to the nonlinear term. That the origin of the mass can be this can be easily understood when you take the limit \lambda\rightarrow 0. The theory becomes massless in this limit and if you do standard perturbation theory the mass term will be hidden in the series and you are not granted you will recover the mass. This result is really beautiful and we see that these solutions are very similar, from a mathematical standpoint, to the ones Smilga considered for classical Yang-Mills equations. So, it is very tempting to try to match these theories. Indeed, this is a truth coded into a (mapping) theorem that I have given in two papers here and here published in archival journals. This mapping holds perturbatively for the coupling going to infinity and this is what we need for studying the opposite limit with respect to gluons. So, I have gone further: These are the right solutions to build a low-energy limit quantum field theory for Yang-Mills equations. This implies that

Mass gap question is settled for Yang-Mills theory.

This is the main conclusion to be drawn: When you build your quantum field theory be careful in the choice of the right classical solutions!


Classical solutions of Yang-Mills equations


So far, I have posted several posts in this blog about the question of classical solutions to Yang-Mills equations. This has produced some fuzz, mostly arisen from my published papers, as to such solutions may not be correct. Thanks to a wise intervention of Terry Tao, I was able to give a complete understanding of my solutions and a theorem was fully proved in a recent paper of mine to appear in Modern Physics Letters A (see here), agreed with Terry in a private communication. So, I think it is time to give a description of this result here as it appears really interesting showing how, already at a classical level, this theory can display massive solutions and a mass gap is already seen in this case. Then, it takes a really small step to get the corresponding proof in quantum field theory.

To understand how these solutions are obtained, let us consider the following equation for a scalar field


This is a massless self-interacting field. We can select a class of solutions by looking at the case of a rest reference frame. So, we put any dependence on spatial variables to zero and solve the equation


whose solutions are known and given by

\phi(t,0)=\mu\left(\frac{2}{\lambda}\right)^{\frac{1}{4}}{\rm sn}\left[\left(\frac{\lambda}{2}\right)^{\frac{1}{4}}\mu t+\theta,i\right]

being \mu and \theta two integration constants and sn a Jacobi elliptical function. Then, boosting this solution will produce an exact solution of the equation we started from given by

\phi(x)=\mu\left(\frac{2}{\lambda}\right)^{\frac{1}{4}}{\rm sn}(p\cdot x+\theta,i)

provided the following dispersion relation holds


and we see that, although we started with a massless field, self-interaction provided us massive solutions!

Now, the next question one should ask is if such a mechanism may be at work for classical Yang-Mills equations. These can be written down as

\partial^\mu\partial_\mu A^a_\nu-\left(1-\frac{1}{\alpha}\right)\partial_\nu(\partial^\mu A^a_\mu)+gf^{abc}A^{b\mu}(\partial_\mu A^c_\nu-\partial_\nu A^c_\mu)

+gf^{abc}\partial^\mu(A^b_\mu A^c_\nu)+g^2f^{abc}f^{cde}A^{b\mu}A^d_\mu A^e_\nu = 0

being \alpha chosen depending on the gauge choice, g the coupling and f^{abc} the structure constants of the gauge group taken to be SU(N). The theorem I proved in my paper above states that the solution given for the scalar field theory is an exact solution of Yang-Mills equations, provided it will not depend on spatial coordinates, for a given choice of Yang-Mills components (Smilga’s choice) and \lambda=Ng^2, otherwise the following identity holds


Here \eta_\mu^a is a set of constants arising with the Smilga’s choice. This theorem has the following implications: Firstly, when the coupling become increasingly large, a massless scalar field theory and Yang-Mills theory can be mapped each other. Secondly, already at the classical level, for a coupling large enough, a Yang-Mills theory gets massive solutions. We can see here that a mass gap arises already at a classical level for these theories. Finally, we emphasize that the above mapping appears to hold only in a strong coupling regime while, on the other side, these theories manifest different behaviors. Indeed, we know that Yang-Mills theory has asymptotic freedom while the scalar theory has not. The mapping theorem just mirrors this situation.

We note that these solutions are wave-like ones and describe free massive excitations. This means that these classical theories have to be considered trivial in some sense as these solutions seem to behave in the same way as the plane waves of a free theory.

One can build a quantum field theory on these classical solutions obtaining a theory manifesting a mass gap in some limit. This is has been done in several papers of mine and I will not repeat these arguments here.

Exact solutions of Yang-Mills theory: The situation


Some time passed by since Terry Tao was so kind to take a look to my work. His concern about a main theorem in my paper, the so called mapping theorem, was motivated by the fact that no proof exists that there are common solutions between Yang-Mills equations and the one of the quartic scalar field. This point is quite crucial as, if such solutions do not exist, I cannot do any claim about Yang-Mills theory.

Some people are in confusion yet about this matter and I find occasionally someone, e.g. the Czech guy, claiming that my paper is false also after I have proved that such solutions exist.

Of course, Terry meant to point out a weakness in the proof given in my paper as I gave no evidence whatsoever of the form of these solutions and so the proof is, at least, incomplete. My next preprint proved that such solutions indeed exist and my argument is true already at level of perturbation theory. The conclusion is straightforward: Smilga’s choice select a class of common solutions between Yang-Mills equations and a quartic scalar field. I have not presented them explicitly in my paper and this is the reason why all this arguing was started. Terry’s suggestion was to complete the proof  and this I have done.

Curiously enough, I was able to see such solutions only in the Smilga’s book. I think this was Smilga’s idea and was also my source of inspiration.  I was in need of these solutions to treat classical Yang-Mills equations with a gradient expansion against a lot of unmanageable chaotic solutions. I would like to remember here that this approach is quite common in physics. For interested readers, I invite them to look at this beautiful Wikipedia entry about BKL solution. This is the way this approach is used in general relativity with a widespread example as the Kasner solution. This is an exact solution of Einstein equations that depends solely on time. Exactly as happens to the solutions obtained by a Smilga’s choice from Yang-Mills equations. Indeed, I suspect that Kasner solution may be helpful to quantize Einstein equations in the infrared limit. Currently I have no time to exploit this but I have given a hint about here.

Dmitry Podolsky (see his blog here) hit correctly the point when asked for the fate of chaotic solutions in the infrared quantum field theory. Presently, the fact that they are not relevant has the status of a conjecture: No quantum field theory can be built out of classical chaotic solutions. I do not even know how to face this kind of question as no closed form chaotic solutions exist to start from.

Finally, this gives the current situation about this matter. My paper that started all this is correct and in agreement with current lattice results. People’s mood about lattice computations range from fully convinced to skeptical.  My view is that they represent correctly the infrared physics at hand but I am a supporter of these people working on lattice computations and so, my judgement should not be counted.

Gluon condensate


While I am coping with a revision of a paper of mine asked by a referee, I realized that these solutions of Yang-Mills equations implied by a Smilga’s choice give a proof of existence of a gluon condensate. This in turn means that a lot of phenomenological studies carried out since eighties of the last century are sound as are also their conclusions. E.g. you can check this paper where the authors find a close agreement with my findings about glueball spectrum. The ideas of these authors are founded on the concept of gluon and quark condensates. As they conclusions agree with mine, I have taken some time to think about this. My main conclusion is the following. If you have a gluon condensate, the theory should give \langle F\cdot F\rangle\ne 0 being F_{\mu\nu}^a the usual gluon field. So, let us work out this classically. Let us consider a scalar field mapped on the gluon field in such a way to have

A_\mu^a(t)=\eta_\mu^a \Lambda\left(\frac{2}{3g^2}\right)^\frac{1}{4}{\rm sn}\left[\Lambda\left(\frac{3g^2}{2}\right)^\frac{1}{4}t,i\right]

being sn a Jacobi snoidal function, and \eta_\mu^a a constant array of elements obtained by a Smilga’s choice. When you work out the product F\cdot F the main contribution will come from the quartic term producing a term \langle \phi(t)^4 \rangle. Classically, we substitute the average with \frac{1}{T}\int_0^T dt being the period T=4K(i)/[\Lambda\left(\frac{3g^2}{2}\right)^\frac{1}{4}]. The integration is quite straightforward and gives

\langle \phi(t)^4 \rangle=\frac{\Gamma(1/4)^2}{18K(i)\sqrt{2\pi}}\frac{\Lambda^4}{4\pi\alpha_s}

I will evaluate this average in order to see if the order of magnitude is the right one with respect to the computations carried out by Kisslinger and Johnson. But the fact that this average is indeed not equal zero is a proof of existence of the gluon condensate directly from Yang-Mills equations.

Updated paper


After a very interesting analysis about classical solutions of Yang-Mills equations, in this blog and elsewhere in the web, and having recognized that a paper of mine was in great need for corrections (see here) I have finally done it.

I have replaced the paper on arxiv a few moments ago (see here). I do not know if it is immediately available or you have to wait for tomorrow morning. In any case, the only new result added, with respect to material already discussed in this blog, is the first order correction to the propagator of the massless scalar theory. This goes like 1/\lambda making all the argument consistent. This asymptotic series should be modified as the limit \lambda\rightarrow\infty becomes more and more difficult to be applied and this should be in a kind of intermediate region that, presently, I have no technique to manage. This is matter for future work. The perspective is the ability to recover the solution of a scalar field theory for all energy range.

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