nLab zeta function of an elliptic differential operator



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For a suitable linear operator HH (say on section of a line bundle over a Riemann surface), its zeta function is the analytic continuation of the trace

ζ H(s)Tr(H s) \zeta_H(s) \coloneqq Tr(H^{-s})

of the s-s power of HH, which, if HH is suitably self-adjoint, is the sum of the s-s-powers of all its eigenvalues, as a function of ss. This is analogous to the Riemann zeta function and the Dedekind zeta function (or would be if there were something like a Laplace operator on Spec(Z) or more generally on an arithmetic curve, see at function field analogy).

The exponential of the derivative of the zeta function at n=0n = 0 also encodes the functional determinant of HH, a regularized version (“zeta function regularization”) of the naive and generally ill-defined product of all eigenvalues. As such, zeta functions play a central role in quantum field theory.

Generally, the values of ζ H(s)\zeta_H(s) of interest in physics (when regarding HH as a Hamilton operator) are those for (low) integral ss. These are just the special values of L-functions.


The zeta function

Given an elliptic differential operator with positive lower bound cc, write HH for its self-adjoint extension and write

0<λ 1λ 2 0 \lt \lambda_1 \leq \lambda_2 \leq \cdots

for its eigenvalues.


The zeta function of HH is the holomorphic function defined by the series

ζ H(s) Tr(H s) n=11(λ n) s. \begin{aligned} \zeta_H(s) & \coloneqq Tr( H^{-s} ) \\ & \coloneqq \underoverset{n = 1}{\infty}{\sum} \frac{1}{(\lambda_n)^s} \end{aligned} \,.

where this converges and then extended by analytic continuation.

(e.g. (Duistermaat-Guillemin 75 (2.13), Berline-Getzler-Vergne 04, section 9.6 ) ).

Functional determinant and zeta-function regularization

Notice that the first derivative ζ H \zeta^\prime_H of this zeta function is, where the original series converges, given by

ζ H (s)= n=1 lnλ n(λ n) s. \zeta_H^\prime(s) = \sum_{n = 1}^\infty \frac{- \ln \lambda_n}{ (\lambda_n)^s} \,.

Therefore one says (Ray-Singer 71) that the functional determinant of HH is the exponential of the derivative of zeta function of HH at 0:

det regHexp(ζ H (0)). det_{reg} H \coloneqq \exp(- \zeta_H^\prime(0)) \,.

Via the analytic continuation involved in defining ζ H(0)\zeta_H(0) in the first place, this may be thought of as a regularization of the ill-defined naive definition “ nλ n\prod_n \lambda_n” of the determinant of HH. As such functional determinants often appear in quantum field theory as what is called zeta function regularization.

Conversely, the logarithm

Z12ζ H (0)=12logdet regH Z \coloneqq - \frac{1}{2}\zeta_H^\prime(0) = \tfrac{1}{2} log\,det_{reg} H

is what is called the vacuum energy in quantum field theory (for H 1H^{-1} the Feynman propagator).

If H=D 2H = D^2 has a square root DD (a Dirac operator-type square root as in supersymmetric quantum mechanics) then under some conditions on the growth of the eigenvalues, then the functional determinant may also be expressed in terms of the eta function of DD as

detH=det(D 2)=exp(scη D(0)). det H = det (D^2) = \exp( \frac{\partial}{\partial s}\frac{\partial}{\partial c} \eta_{D}(0)) \,.

See at eta invariant – Relation to zeta function for more on this.

Relation to partition functions and number-theoretic zeta/theta functions

By basic integration identities we have that


The series expression in def. is equal to the Mellin transform of the partition function

ζ H(s)= (0,)t s1(λ k0exp(tλ k))dt. \zeta_H(s) = \int_{(0,\infty)} t^{s-1} \left( \underset{\lambda_k \neq 0}{\sum} \exp(-t \lambda_k) \right) d t \,.

(see e.g. Quine-Heydari-Song 93 (8), Richardson, pages 8-9, BCEMZ 03, section A.2, Connes-Marcolli 06, theorem 13.11).


If one thinks of the operation HH as a Hamiltonian of a quantum mechanical system, then the term

Tr(exp(βH))λ k0exp(βλ k)+1 Tr(\exp(-\beta H)) \coloneqq \underset{\lambda_k \neq 0}{\sum} \exp(-\beta \lambda_k) + 1

is the partition function of this system. Accordingly, prop. says that the zeta function of HH is obtained from its partition function by

ζ H(s)= (0,)β s1(Tr(exp(βH))1)dβ. \zeta_H(s) = \int_{(0,\infty)} \beta^{s-1} \; \left(Tr(\exp(-\beta H)) - 1 \right) \; d \beta \,.

Further, by a change of integration variable tx 2t\coloneqq x^2 in the expression in prop. one obtains


The series expression in def. is equal to

ζ H(s) =2 (0,)x 2s1(λ k0exp(x 2λ k))dx. \begin{aligned} \zeta_H(s) & = 2 \int_{(0,\infty)} x^{2s-1} \left( \underset{\lambda_k \neq 0}{\sum} \exp(- x^2 \lambda_k) \right) d x \end{aligned} \,.

In particular if H=D 2H = D^2 is the square of a Dirac operator/supersymmetric quantum mechanics-type square root operator DD with eigenvalues ±α k\pm \alpha_k,then λ k=α k 2\lambda_k = \alpha_k^2 and hence in this case the series is

ζ H(s) =2 (0,)x 2s1(α k0exp((xα k) 2))dx. \begin{aligned} \zeta_H(s) & = 2 \int_{(0,\infty)} x^{2s-1} \left( \underset{\alpha_k \neq 0}{\sum} \exp(- (x \alpha_k)^2) \right) d x \end{aligned} \,.

By comparison one observes:


The integral expression in prop. is analogous to the expression of zeta functions in number theory/arithmetic geometry as integrals of a theta function (for instance discussed here for the Riemann zeta function)

ζ^ f(2s)= (0,)(θ(x 2)1)x 2s1dx. \hat\zeta_f(2 s) = \int_{(0,\infty)} (\theta(x^2) - 1) x^{2s-1} d x \,.

Under this analogy the theta function in the case of the differential operator HH is

θ H(x)λ k0exp(xλ l). \theta_H(x) \coloneqq \underset{\lambda_k \neq 0}{\sum} \exp(- x \lambda_l) \,.

This is formally the same definition as that of adelic theta functions (e.g.Garrett 11, section 1.8)


The determinant line bundle of the functional determinant of the Dirac operator on a complex torus is a complex-analytic theta function as above, quotiented by the Dedekind eta function.

Early references explaining this include Alvarez-Gaumé & Moore & Vafa 86, Alvarez-Gaumé & Bost & Moore & Nelson & Vafa 87. In a bigger perspective, this relation plays a central role in the general discussion of self-dual higher gauge theory (Witten 96).


Of Laplace operator on complex torus and Dedekind eta function

For /(τ)\mathbb{C}/(\mathbb{Z}\oplus \tau \mathbb{Z}) a complex torus (complex elliptic curve) equipped with its standard flat Riemannian metric, then the zeta function of the corresponding Laplace operator Δ\Delta is

ζ Δ=(2π) 2sE(s)(2π) 2s(k,l)×(0,0)1|k+τl| 2s. \zeta_{\Delta} = (2\pi)^{-2 s} E(s) \coloneqq (2\pi)^{-2 s} \underset{(k,l)\in \mathbb{Z}\times\mathbb{Z}-(0,0)}{\sum} \frac{1}{{\vert k +\tau l\vert}^{2s}} \,.

The corresponding functional determinant is

exp(E Δ (0))=(Imτ) 2|η(τ)| 4, \exp( E^\prime_{\Delta}(0) ) = (Im \tau)^2 {\vert \eta(\tau)\vert}^4 \,,

where η\eta is the Dedekind eta function.

(recalled e.g. in Todorov 03, page 3)

For more see also at zeta function of a Riemann surface.

Analytic torsion

The functional determinant of a Laplace operator of a Riemannian manifold acting on differential n-forms is up to a sign in the exponent a factor in what is called the analytic torsion of the manifold.

context/function field analogytheta function θ\thetazeta function ζ\zeta (= Mellin transform of θ(0,)\theta(0,-))L-function L zL_{\mathbf{z}} (= Mellin transform of θ(z,)\theta(\mathbf{z},-))eta function η\etaspecial values of L-functions
physics/2d CFTpartition function θ(z,τ)=Tr(exp(τ(D z) 2))\theta(\mathbf{z},\mathbf{\tau}) = Tr(\exp(-\mathbf{\tau} \cdot (D_\mathbf{z})^2)) as function of complex structure τ\mathbf{\tau} of worldsheet Σ\Sigma (hence polarization of phase space) and background gauge field/source z\mathbf{z}analytically continued trace of Feynman propagator ζ(s)=Tr reg(1(D 0) 2) s= 0 τ s1θ(0,τ)dτ\zeta(s) = Tr_{reg}\left(\frac{1}{(D_{0})^2}\right)^s = \int_{0}^\infty \tau^{s-1} \,\theta(0,\tau)\, d\tauanalytically continued trace of Feynman propagator in background gauge field z\mathbf{z}: L z(s)Tr reg(1(D z) 2) s= 0 τ s1θ(z,τ)dτL_{\mathbf{z}}(s) \coloneqq Tr_{reg}\left(\frac{1}{(D_{\mathbf{z}})^2}\right)^s = \int_{0}^\infty \tau^{s-1} \,\theta(\mathbf{z},\tau)\, d\tauanalytically continued trace of Dirac propagator in background gauge field z\mathbf{z} η z(s)=Tr reg(sgn(D z)|D z|) s\eta_{\mathbf{z}}(s) = Tr_{reg} \left(\frac{sgn(D_{\mathbf{z}})}{ { \vert D_{\mathbf{z}} } \vert }\right)^s regularized 1-loop vacuum amplitude pvL z(1)=Tr reg(1(D z) 2)pv\, L_{\mathbf{z}}(1) = Tr_{reg}\left(\frac{1}{(D_{\mathbf{z}})^2}\right) / regularized fermionic 1-loop vacuum amplitude pvη z(1)=Tr reg(D z(D z) 2)pv\, \eta_{\mathbf{z}}(1)= Tr_{reg} \left( \frac{D_{\mathbf{z}}}{(D_{\mathbf{z}})^2} \right) / vacuum energy 12L z (0)=Z H=12lndet reg(D z 2)-\frac{1}{2}L_{\mathbf{z}}^\prime(0) = Z_H = \frac{1}{2}\ln\;det_{reg}(D_{\mathbf{z}}^2)
Riemannian geometry (analysis)zeta function of an elliptic differential operatorzeta function of an elliptic differential operatoreta function of a self-adjoint operatorfunctional determinant, analytic torsion
complex analytic geometrysection θ(z,τ)\theta(\mathbf{z},\mathbf{\tau}) of line bundle over Jacobian variety J(Σ τ)J(\Sigma_{\mathbf{\tau}}) in terms of covering coordinates z\mathbf{z} on gJ(Σ τ)\mathbb{C}^g \to J(\Sigma_{\mathbf{\tau}})zeta function of a Riemann surfaceSelberg zeta functionDedekind eta function
arithmetic geometry for a function fieldGoss zeta function (for arithmetic curves) and Weil zeta function (in higher dimensional arithmetic geometry)
arithmetic geometry for a number fieldHecke theta function, automorphic formDedekind zeta function (being the Artin L-function L zL_{\mathbf{z}} for z=0\mathbf{z} = 0 the trivial Galois representation)Artin L-function L zL_{\mathbf{z}} of a Galois representation z\mathbf{z}, expressible “in coordinates” (by Artin reciprocity) as a finite-order Hecke L-function (for 1-dimensional representations) and generally (via Langlands correspondence) by an automorphic L-function (for higher dimensional reps)class number \cdot regulator
arithmetic geometry for \mathbb{Q}Jacobi theta function (z=0\mathbf{z} = 0)/ Dirichlet theta function (z=χ\mathbf{z} = \chi a Dirichlet character)Riemann zeta function (being the Dirichlet L-function L zL_{\mathbf{z}} for Dirichlet character z=0\mathbf{z} = 0)Artin L-function of a Galois representation z\mathbf{z} , expressible “in coordinates” (via Artin reciprocity) as a Dirichlet L-function (for 1-dimensional Galois representations) and generally (via Langlands correspondence) as an automorphic L-function



An early reference is

(see also at Duistermaat-Guillemin trace formula)

Textbook accounts include

Review includes

Zeta function regularization

  • Eugene Speer, On the structure of Analytic Renormalization, Comm. math. Phys. 23, 23-36 (1971) (Euclid)

  • A. Bytsenko, G. Cognola, Emilio Elizalde, Valter Moretti, S. Zerbini, section 2 of Analytic Aspects of Quantum Fields, World Scientific Publishing, 2003, ISBN 981-238-364-6

Functional determinant

The definition of a functional determinant via the exponential of the derivative of the zeta function at 0 originates in

  • D. Ray, Isadore Singer, R-torsion and the Laplacian on Riemannian manifolds, Advances in Math. 7: 145–210, (1971) doi:10.1016/0001-8708(71)90045-4, MR 0295381

Discussion in the special case of 2d CFT (worldsheet string theory) is in

Last revised on November 24, 2020 at 01:47:41. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.