Renormalization of the vector current in QED

John C. Collins, Aneesh V. Manohar, Mark B. Wise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


It is commonly asserted that the electromagnetic current is conserved and therefore is not renormalized. Within QED we show (a) that this statement is false, (b) how to obtain the renormalization of the current to all orders of perturbation theory, and (c) how to correctly define an electron number operator. The current mixes with the four-divergence of the electromagnetic field-strength tensor. The true electron number operator is the integral of the time component of the electron number density, but only when the current differs from the MS̄-renormalized current by a definite finite renormalization. This happens in such a way that Gauss's law holds: the charge operator is the surface integral of the electric field at infinity. The theorem extends naturally to any gauge theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105019
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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