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  • Print publication year: 1996
  • Online publication date: September 2009

8 - The loop representation of quantum gravity



Having cast general relativity as a Hamiltonian theory of a connection, we are now in a position to apply the same techniques we used to construct a loop representation of Yang–Mills theories to the gravitational case. We should recall that we are dealing with a complex SU(2) connection. However, we can use exactly the same formulae that we developed in chapter 5 since few of them depend on the reality of the connections. Whenever the presence of a complex connection introduces changes, we will discuss this explicitly.

As we have seen, we can introduce a loop representation either through a transform or through the quantization of a non-canonical algebra. The initial steps are exactly the same as those in the SU(2) Yang–Mills case. The differences arise when we want to write the constraint equations. In the Yang–Mills case the only constraint was the Gauss law and one had to represent the Hamiltonian in terms of loops. In the case of gravity one has to impose the diffeomorphism and Hamiltonian constraints in terms of loops. In order to do so one can either use the transform or write them as suitable limits of the operators in the T algebra. We will outline both derivations for the sake of comparison. As we argued in the Yang–Mills case both derivations are formal and in a sense equivalent, although the difficulties are highlighted in slightly different ways in the two derivations.