Semiclassical analysis of quantum systems with constraints

Open Access
Tsobanjan, Artur
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 10, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Martin Bojowald, Dissertation Advisor
  • Martin Bojowald, Committee Chair
  • Abhay Vasant Ashtekar, Committee Member
  • John Collins, Committee Member
  • Ping Xu, Committee Member
  • constraint quantization
  • semiclassical
  • quantum cosmology
  • effective equations
  • relational observables
This dissertation addresses the problem of constructing true degrees of freedom in quantum mechanical systems with constraints. The method developed relies on assuming the behavior of the system of interest is ``nearly classical', or semiclassical, in a precise quantitative sense. The approximation is formulated as a perturbative hierarchy of the expectation values of quantum observables and their non-linear combinations, such as spreads and correlations. We formulate the constraint conditions and additional quantum gauge transformations that arise directly on the aforementioned quantities. We specialize this framework to several situations of particular interest. The first situation considered is the case of a constraint that commutes with all quantum observables, which is appropriate for quantization of a Lie algebra with a single Casimir polynomial. Through explicit order-by order counting argue that the true degrees of freedom are captured correctly at each order of the approximation. The rest of the models considered are motivated by the canonical approach to quantizing general relativity. The homogeneous sector of general relativity splits into classes of models, according to topology, which are described by a finite number of degrees of freedom and can therefore be quantized as quantum mechanical systems, making our construction directly applicable. In the Hamiltonian formulation the dynamics of these systems is governed by the Hamiltonian constraint, which, in the quantum theory, gives rise to several conceptual and technical issues collectively known as the Problem of Time. One of the aspects of this problem that does not possess a general solution is the dynamical interpretation of the theory. We use our construction, truncated at the leading order in quantum corrections, together with the intuition gained from dealing with constrained systems in classical mechanics, to define local notion of dynamics relative to a chosen configuration clock variable. We consider a class of models, where the chosen clock in not globally valid, eventually leading to singular dynamics. Within these models we construct an explicit transformation between dynamical evolution relative to two distinct clocks, thus providing a consistent local dynamical interpretation of the true degrees of freedom of the quantum theory.