Well below 1%



When a theory is too hard to solve people try to consider lower dimensional cases. This also happened for Yang-Mills theory. The four dimensional case is notoriously difficult to manage due to the large coupling and the three dimensional case has been treated both theoretically and by lattice computations. In this latter case, the ground state energy of the theory is known very precisely (see here). So, a sound theoretical approach from first principles should be able to get that number at the same level of precision. We know that this is the situation for Standard Model with respect to some experimental results but a pure Yang-Mills theory has not been seen in nature and we have to content ourselves with computer data. The reason is that a Yang-Mills theory is realized in nature just in interaction with other kind of fields being these scalars, fermions or vector-like.

In these days, I have received the news that my paper on three dimensional Yang-Mills theory has been accepted for publication in the European Physical Journal C. Here is tha table for the ground state for SU(N) at different values of N compared to lattice data

N Lattice     Theoretical Error

2 4.7367(55) 4.744262871 0.16%

3 4.3683(73) 4.357883714 0.2%

4 4.242(9)     4.243397712 0.03%

4.116(6)    4.108652166 0.18%

These results are strikingly good and the agreement is well below 1%. This in turn implies that the underlying theoretical derivation is sound. Besides, the approach proves to be successful both also in four dimensions (see here). My hope is that this means the beginning of the era of high precision theoretical computations in strong interactions.

Andreas Athenodorou, & Michael Teper (2017). SU(N) gauge theories in 2+1 dimensions: glueball spectra and k-string tensions J. High Energ. Phys. (2017) 2017: 15 arXiv: 1609.03873v1

Marco Frasca (2016). Confinement in a three-dimensional Yang-Mills theory arXiv arXiv: 1611.08182v2

Marco Frasca (2015). Quantum Yang-Mills field theory Eur. Phys. J. Plus (2017) 132: 38 arXiv: 1509.05292v2

Millenium prize on Yang-Mills theory: The situation in physics



Yang-Mills theory with the related question of the mass gap appears today an unsolved problem and, from a mathematical standpoint, the community did not recognized anybody to claim the prize so far. But in physics the answer to this question has made enormous progress mostly by the use of lattice computations and, quite recently, with the support of theoretical analysis. Contrarily to common wisdom, the most fruitful attack to this problem is using Green functions. The reason why this was not a greatly appreciated approach relies on the fact that Green functions are gauge dependent. Anyhow, they contain physical information that is gauge independent and this is exactly what we are looking for: The mass gap.

In order to arrive to such a conclusion a lot of work has been needed since ’80 and the main reason was that at the very start of these studies computational resources were not enough to arrive to a deep infrared region. So, initially, the scenario people supported was not the right one and some conviction arose that the gluon propagator could not say too much about the question of the mass gap. There was no Källen-Lehman representation to help and rather, the propagator seemed to not behave as a massive one but theoretical analysis pointed to a gluon propagator going to zero lowering momenta. This is the now dubbed scaling solution.

Running coupling from the lattice

In the first years of this decade things changed dramatically both due to increase of computational power and by a better theoretical understanding. As pointed out by Axel Weber (see here and here), three papers unveiled what is now called the decoupling solution (see here, here and here). The first two papers were solving Dyson-Schwinger equations by numerical methods while the latter is a theoretical paper solving Yang-Mills equations. Decoupling solution is in agreement with lattice results that in those years started to come out with more powerful computational resources. At larger lattices the gluon propagator reaches a finite non-zero value, the ghost propagator is the one of a free massless particle and the running coupling bends toward zero aiming to a trivial infrared fixed point (see here, here and here). Axel Weber, in his work, shows that the decoupling solution is the only stable one with respect a renormalization group flow.

Gluon propagators for SU(2) from the lattice

These are accepted facts in the physical community so that several papers are now coming out using them. The one I have seen today is from Kenji Fukushima and Kouji Kashiwa (see here). In this case, given the fact that the decoupling solution is the right one, these authors study the data for non-zero temperature and discuss the Polyakov loop for this case. Fukushima is very well-known for his works in QCD at finite temprature.

We can claim, without any possible confutation, that in physics the behavior of a pure Yang-Mills theory is very clear now. Of course, we can miss much of the rigor that is needed in mathematics and this is the reason why no proclamation is heard yet.

Axel Weber (2011). Epsilon expansion for infrared Yang-Mills theory in Landau gauge arXiv arXiv: 1112.1157v2

A. C. Aguilar, & A. A. Natale (2004). A dynamical gluon mass solution in a coupled system of the
Schwinger-Dyson equations JHEP0408:057,2004 arXiv: hep-ph/0408254v2

Ph. Boucaud, Th. Brüntjen, J. P. Leroy, A. Le Yaouanc, A. Y. Lokhov, J. Micheli, O. Pène, & J. Rodríguez-Quintero (2006). Is the QCD ghost dressing function finite at zero momentum ? JHEP 0606:001,2006 arXiv: hep-ph/0604056v1

Marco Frasca (2007). Infrared Gluon and Ghost Propagators Phys.Lett.B670:73-77,2008 arXiv: 0709.2042v6

Attilio Cucchieri, & Tereza Mendes (2007). What’s up with IR gluon and ghost propagators in Landau gauge? A
puzzling answer from huge lattices PoS LAT2007:297,2007 arXiv: 0710.0412v1

I. L. Bogolubsky, E. -M. Ilgenfritz, M. Müller-Preussker, & A. Sternbeck (2007). The Landau gauge gluon and ghost propagators in 4D SU(3) gluodynamics in large lattice volumes PoSLAT2007:290,2007 arXiv: 0710.1968v2

O. Oliveira, P. J. Silva, E. -M. Ilgenfritz, & A. Sternbeck (2007). The gluon propagator from large asymmetric lattices PoSLAT2007:323,2007 arXiv: 0710.1424v1

Kenji Fukushima, & Kouji Kashiwa (2012). Polyakov loop and QCD thermodynamics from the gluon and ghost propagators arXiv arXiv: 1206.0685v1

Back from Paris



It is several days that I have no more posted on the blog but for a very good reason: I was in Paris for the Eleventh Workshop on Non-Perturbative Quantum Chromodynamics (see here). It has been a beautiful chance to see Paris with the eyes of a tourist and being immersed in a lot of physics in the area I am currently contributing. The conference was held at the Institut d’Astrophyisique de Paris. This week was indeed plenty of information for people in high-energy physics due to the release by D0 of their measurements on the Wjj data, showing that the almost 5 sigma bump of CDF was not there (see here, here and here). In the conference there has been room for talks by experimentalists too and it was the most shocking part as I will explain below.

The talks were somehow interesting with a couple of days mostly dedicated to AdS/CFT approach for QCD. So, string theory got a lot of space even if I should say that more promising approaches seem to exist. The first day there have been a couple of talks that were very near my interest by Dario Zappalà and Marco Ruggieri. They were reporting on their very recent papers (here and here). With Marco, I spent all the week together while with Dario we have had a nice dinner near Latin Quartier. The question Dario presented was about the existence of massive excitations (let me say “persistence”) also beyond the critical temperature for Yang-Mills theory. We discussed together with Marco this result and Marco claimed that massive excitations should have melted beyond the critical temperature while my view is that the residual of mass should be due to temperature corrections to the mass spectrum of the theory. Marco in his talk presented the idea of measuring the chiral chemical potential on the lattice as this could give plain evidence of existence for the critical endpoint without the annoying sign problem. A proof of existence of the critical endpoint is somehow the Holy Grail of finite temperature QCD and something under a lot of studies both theoretically and on the lattice. So, Marco’s proposal can turn out a significant shortcut toward the reaching of this goal.

The second day Carl Bender gave a very beautiful talk telling us about PT invariant quantum mechanics. PT stays for Parity and Time reversal. The point to start from is the Dirac postulate about the Hamiltonian being Hermitian self-adjoint. Differently from the other postualates of quantum mechanics, this one is too much a mathematical requirement and one could ask if can be made somewhat looser. The paradigm Hamiltonian has the from H=p^2+ix^3. The answer is yes of course and we were left with the doubt that maybe this is the proper formulation of quantum mechanics rather the standard one. I suspect that this could represent a possible technique useful in quantum gravity studies.

I have already said of the two days on string theory. I have just noticed the talk by Luca Mazzucato showing how, with his approach, my scaling with \lambda^\frac{1}{4} for the energy spectrum could be recovered in a strong coupling expansion being \lambda the ‘t Hooft coupling. Unfortunately, Gabriele Veneziano could not partecipate.

On Wednesday there was the most shocking declaration from an experimentalist: “We do not understand the proton”. The reason for this arises from the results presented by people from CERN working at LHC. They showed a systematic deviation of their Montecarlo simulations from experimental data. This means for us, working in this area, that their modeling of low-energy QCD is bad and their possible estimation of the background unsure. There is no way currently to get an exact evaluation of the proton scattering section. I am somewhat surprised by this as so far, as I have always pointed out in this blog, at least the structure of the gluon propagator at low energies should be known exactly from the lattice. So, modeling the proton in such Montecarlo models should be a mitigated issue. This does not seem to be so and these different communities do not seem to talk each other at all. After these shocking news, the evening we took an excellent social dinner and I have had some fine discussions with foreigners colleagues that were well aware of the books from Umberto Eco. One of these, Karl Landsteiner, suggested us to visit the Pantheon to look at the Foucault pendulum. I, Marco Ruggieri and Orlando Oliveira took this initiative the next day and it was a very nice place to visit. If you are a physicist you can understand the emotion of being there seeing that sphere moving like Newton’s equations demand and inexorably proving the rotation of the Earth. Karl gave an interesting talk that day where AdS/CFT is used to obtain transport coefficients in heavy ion collisions.

In the same day, Orlando Oliveira gave his talk. Orlando is a friend of mine and gave relevant contribution to our understanding of the behavior of low-energy gluon propagator. He has been the author of one of the papers that, at Regensburg on 2007, started the end of the so called “scaling solution” for the gluon propagator (see here). Orlando is going ahead, starting from the acquired form of the gluon propagator, to understand low-energy phenomenology of nuclear forces. In this work, he and his colleagues introduce an octect of scalar fields having the aim to produce the gluon mass through a non-zero vacuum expectation value (see here) producing chiral symmetry breaking. My work and that of Orlando are somewhat overlapped in the initial part where we have an identical understanding of the low-energy behavior of  Yang-Mills theory.

On Friday, there have been a couple of significant events. The first one was my talk. This is a report on my recent paper. I will not discuss this point further leaving this material to your judgement. The second relevant event was given in the talks by Thierry Grandou and our Chairman and Organizer Herbert Fried. The relevant paper is here. While Grandou made a more mathematical introduction with a true important result: the resummation of all gluon exchange diagrams realizing some dream of having completely solved QCD, Fried provided a more concrete result giving the binding potential between quarks analytically obtained from the preceding theorem. We were somehow astonished by this that seems just a small step away from the Millenium prize. Berndt Mueller, one of the Organizers, suggested to Fried to determine the mass gap and wait a couple of years to get the prize. Indeed, this appears a true striking exact result in the realm of QCD.

All in all, an interesting conference in a special place: Paris. For me, it has been a very nice period of full immersion in physics with the company of very nice friends.

Update: Mary Ann Rotondo put online the slides of the talks (see here).

P. Castorina, V. Greco, D. Jaccarino, & D. Zappalà (2011). A reanalysis of Finite Temperature SU(N) Gauge Theory arXiv arXiv: 1105.5902v1

Marco Ruggieri (2011). The Critical End Point of Quantum Chromodynamics Detected by Chirally
Imbalanced Quark Matter arXiv arXiv: 1103.6186v1

Irene Amado, Karl Landsteiner, & Francisco Pena-Benitez (2011). Anomalous transport coefficients from Kubo formulas in Holography JHEP 05 (2011) 081 arXiv: 1102.4577v3

O. Oliveira, W. de Paula, & T. Frederico (2011). Linking Dynamical Gluon Mass to Chiral Symmetry Breaking via a QCD Low
Energy Effective Field Theory arXiv arXiv: 1105.4899v1

Marco Frasca (2011). Chiral symmetry in the low-energy limit of QCD at finite temperature arXiv arXiv: 1105.5274v2

H. M. Fried, Y. Gabellini, T. Grandou, & Y. -M. Sheu (2009). Gauge Invariant Summation of All QCD Virtual Gluon Exchanges Eur.Phys.J.C65:395-411,2010 arXiv: 0903.2644v2

Current status of Yang-Mills mass gap question


I think that is time to make a point about the question of mass gap existence in the Yang-Mills theory. There are three lines of research in this area: Theoretical, numerical and experimental. I can suppose that the one that mostly interests my readers is the theoretical one. I would like to remember that, in order to get a Millenium Prize, one also needs to prove the existence of the theory. This makes the problem far from being trivial.

As for today, the question of existence of the mass gap both for scalar field theories and Yang-Mills theory should be considered settled. Currently there are two papers of mine, here and here both published in archival journals, proving the existence of the mass gap and give it in a closed analytical form. A proof has been also given by Alexander Dynin at Ohio State University here. Alexander does not give the mass gap in a closed form but gets a lower bound that permits him to conclude that Yang-Mills theory has a discrete spectrum with a mass gap. This is enough to declare this part of the problem solved. It is interesting to note that, differently from Poincaré conjecture, this solution does not require a mathematics that is too much complex. This can be understood from the fact that the corresponding classical equations of the theory already admit  massive solutions of free particle. The quantum theory can be built on these solutions and all this boils down to a trivial fixed point in the infrared for the quantum theory. Such a trivial fixed point, that explains also the lower bound Alexander is able to find, is a good news: We have a set of asymptotic states at diminishing momenta that can be used to do perturbation theory and do computations for physics! The reason why these relevant mathematical results did not get the proper exposition so far escape me and enters into the realm of things that I do not know. It is true that in this area there is a lot of caution and this can be understood as this problem received a lot of attention after Witten and Jaffe proposed it for a big money prize.

But, as I have already said, this problem has two questions to be answered and while computing the mass gap is quite easy, the other question is rather involved. To prove the existence of a quantum field theory is not a trivial matter and, for sure, we know that the Wiener integral exists and the Feynman integral does not (so far and only for mathematicians). What I prove in my papers is that the Euclidean theory exists for the scalar field theory (thanks to Glimm and Jaffe that already proved this) and that this theory matches the Yang-Mills theory in the limit of the gauge coupling going to infinity. It should be an asymptotic existence… Alexander by his side proves existence in a different way but here unfortunately I cannot say too much but I would appreciate that Alexander would write down some lines here about his work.

Other theoretical attempts are based on some educated guess as a starting point as could be the vacuum functional, the beta function or other parts of the theory that, for a full proof, should be derived instead. These attempts give a strong support to my work and that of Alexander. In these papers you will see a discrete spectrum and this is the one of a harmonic oscillator or simply the very existence of the mass gap itself. But, for physicists, the spectrum is the relevant conclusion as from it we can get the masses of physical states to be seen in accelerator facilities. This is the reason why I do not worry too much for mathematicians fussing about my papers.

Finally, I would like to spend a few words about numerical and experimental results. Experiments show clearly always bound states of quarks and gluons that are never seen as free. This is the better proof so far Nature gave us of the existence of the mass gap. Numerically, people computed both Green functions and the spectrum of the theory. I am convinced that these lines should merge. The spectrum on the lattice, both quenched and unquenched, displays the mass gap. Green functions, when one considers just the decoupling solution, are Yukawa-like, both on the lattice and from Dyson-Schwinger equations, and this again is a proof of existence of the mass gap.

I hope I have not forgotten anyone. Please, let me know. If you need explicit references here and there I will be pleased to post here. A lot of people is involved in this kind of research and I am happy to acknowledge the good work.

Finally, I would like to remember that one cannot be skeptical about mathematics as mathematics can only be either right or wrong. No other way.

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