Quantum theory of geometry II: Volume operators

Abhay Ashtekar, Jerzy Lewandowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

366 Scopus citations


A functional calculus on the space of (generalized) connections was recently introduced without any reference to a background metric. It is used to continue the exploration of the quantum Riemannian geometry. Operators corresponding to volume of three-dimensional regions are introduced rigorously. It is shown that there are two natural regularization schemes, each of which leads to a well-defined operator. Both operators can be completely specified by giving their action on states labelled by graphs. The two final results are closely related but differ from one another in that one of the operators is sensitive to the differential structure of graphs at their vertices while the second is sensitive only to the topological characteristics. (The second operator was first introduced by Rovelli and Smolin and De Pietri and Rovelli using a somewhat different framework.) The difference between the two operators can be attributed directly to the standard quantization ambiguity. Underlying assumptions and subtleties of regularization procedures are discussed in detail in both cases because volume operators play an important role in the current discussions of quantum dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-429
Number of pages42
JournalAdvances in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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