Tag Archives: vertex

Calculations on Quantum Cuboids and the EPRL-FK path integral for quantum gravity

This week I have been studying a really great paper looking at Quantum Cuboids and path-integral calculations for the EPRL vertex in LQG and also beginning to write some calculational software tools for performing these calculations using Sagemath.

In this work the authors investigate the 4d path integral for Euclidean quantum gravity on a hypercubic lattice, as given by the EPRL-FK model. To tackle the problem, they restrict the path to a set of quantum geometries that reflects the lattice symmetries. In particular, the sum over intertwiners is restricted to quantum cuboids, that is,  coherent intertwiners which describe a cuboidal
geometry in the large-j limit.

Using asymptotic expressions for the vertex amplitude, several interesting properties of the state sum are found.

  • The value of coupling constants in the amplitude functions determines whether geometric or non-geometric configurations dominate the path integral.
  • There is a critical value of the coupling constant α, which separates two phases.  In one phase the main contribution
    comes from very irregular and crumpled states. In the other phase, the dominant contribution comes from a highly regular configuration, which can be interpreted as flat Euclidean space, with small non-geometric perturbations around it.
  • States which describe boundary geometry with high
    torsion have exponentially suppressed physical norm.

The symmetry-restricted state sum

Will work on a regular hypercubic lattice in 4d. On this lattice consider only states which conform to the lattice symmetry. This is a condition on the intertwiners, which  corresponds to cuboids.
A cuboid is completely determined by its three edge lengths, or equivalently by its three areas.


All internal angles are π/2 , and the condition of regular cuboids on all dual edges of the lattice result in a high degree of symmetries on the labels: The area and hence the spin on each two parallel squares of the lattice which are translations perpendicular to the squares, have to be equal.

The high degree of symmetry will make all quantum geometries flat. The analysis carried out here is therefore not suited for describing local curvature.


The plan of the paper is as follows:

  • Review of the EPRL-FK spin foam model
  • Semiclassical regime of the path integral
  • Construction of the quantum cuboid intertwiner
  • Full vertex amplitude, in particular describe its asymptotic expression for large spins
  • Numerical investigation of the quantum path integral

The spin foam state sum  employed is the Euclidean EPRL-FK model with Barbero-Immirzi parameter γ < 1. The EPRL-FK model is defined on an arbitrary 2-complexes. A 2-complex 􀀀 is determined by its vertices v, its edges e connecting two vertices, and faces f which are bounded by the edges.

The path integral is formulated as a sum over states. A state in this context is given by a collection of spins –  irreducible representations
jf ∈ 1/2 N of SU(2) to the faces, as well as a collection of intertwiners ιe on edges.

The actual sum is given by


where Af , Ae and Av are the face-, edge- and vertex- amplitude functions, depending on the state. The sum has to be carried out over all spins, and over an orthonormal orthonormal basis in the intertwiner space at each edge.

The allowed spins jf in the EPRL-FK model are such
that jf are both also half-integer spins.

The face amplitudes are either


The edge amplitudes Ae are usually taken to be equal to 1.

In Sagemath code this looks like:


Coherent intertwiners

In this paper, the space-time manifold used is  M∼ T³×[0, 1] is the product of the 3-torus T3 and a closed interval. The space is compactified toroidally. M is covered by 4d hypercubes, which
form a regular hypercubic lattice H.There is a vertex for each hypercube, and two vertices are connected by an edge whenever two hypercubes intersect ina 3d cube. The faces of 􀀀 are dual to squares in H, on which four hypercubes meet.The geometry will be encoded in the state, by specification of spins jf
and intertwiners ιe.


Intertwiners ιe can be given a geometric interpretation in terms of polyhedra in R³. Given a collection of spins j1, . . . jn and vectors n1, . . . nn which close closure. Can define the coherent polyhedron


The geometric interpretation is that of a polyhedron, with face areas jf and face normals ni. The closure condition ensures that such a polyhedron exists.

We are interested in the large j-regime of the quantum cuboids. In this limit, these become classical cuboids  which are completely specified by their three areas. Therefore, a
semiclassical configuration is given by an assignment of
areas a = lp² to the squares of the hypercubic lattice.

Denote the four directions in the lattice by x, y, z, t. The areas satisfy


The two constraints which reduce the twisted geometric
configurations to geometric configurations are given by:


For a non-geometric configuration, define the 4-volume of a hypercube as:


Define the four diameters to be:


then we have, V4 = dxdydzdt

We also define the non- geometricity as:


as a measure of the deviation from the constraints.

In sagemath code this looks like:


Quantum Cuboids

We let’s look at  the quantum theory. In the 2-complex, every edge has six faces attached to it, corresponding to the six faces of the cubes. So any intertwiner in the state-sum will be six-valent, and therefore can be described by a coherent polyhedron with six faces. In our setup, we restrict the state-sum to coherent cuboids, or quantum cuboids. A cuboid is characterized by areas on opposite sides of the cuboid being equal, and the respective normals being negatives of one another


The state ιj1,j2,j3 is given by:


The vertex amplitude for a Barbero-Immirzi parameter γ < 1 factorizes as Av = A+vAv with


with the complex action


where, a is the source node of the link l, while b is its target node.

Large j asymptotics
The amplitudes A±v possess an asymptotic expression for large jl. There are two distinct stationary and critical points, satisfying the equations.

cuboidequ15for all links ab . Using the convention shown below

cuboidfig4having fixed g0 = 1, the two solutions Σ1 and Σ2 are


The amplitudes A±satisfy, in the large j limit,


In the large j-limit, the norm squared of the quantum cuboid states is given by:


For the state sum, in the large-j limit on a regular hypercubic lattice:


In sagemath code this looks like:






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Numerical indications on the semiclassical limit of the flipped vertex by Magliaro, Perini and Rovelli

This week is I’ve reviewing an old but interesting paper on the flipped vertex. I’m working on replicating and extesnding  the calculations in this paper and will post about them next week.

This is related to the posts

In this paper the authors take  the propagation kernel Wt(x,y) of a one-dimensional nonrelativistic quantum system defined by a hamiltonian operator H:


Then they  consider a semiclassical wave packet centered on its initial values and compute its  evolution under the kernel Wt(x,y):


and see whether or not the initial state  evolves into a semiclassical wave packet centered on the correct final values.

The flipped vertex W(jnm,in) is a function of ten spin variables jnm where n,m = 1,…,5 and five intertwiner variables in:

The process described by one vertex can be seen as the dynamics of a single cell in a Regge triangulation of general relativity. This gives a simple and direct geometrical interpretation to the dynamical variables entering the vertex amplitude and a simple formulation of
the dynamical equations. The boundary of a Regge cell is formed by five tetrahedra joined along all their faces, forming a closed space with the topology of a 3-sphere.


  • Anm be the area of the triangle(nm) that separates the tetrahedra n and m.
  • αn(mp,qr) be the angle between the triangles (mp) and (qr) in the tetrahedron n.
  • Θnm be the angle between the normals to the tetrahedra n and m.

These quantities determine entirely the intrinsic and extrinsic classical geometry of the boundary surface.

The ten spins jnm are the quantum numbers of the areas Anm . The five intertwiners in are the quantum numbers associated to the angles αn(mp,qr) . They are the eigenvalues of the quantity:


In general relativity, the Einstein equations can be seen as constraints on boundary variables Anm ,  αn(mp,qr)   and Θnm. These can be viewed as the ensemble of the initial, boundary and final data for a process happening inside the boundary 3-sphere.

In general finding a solution to these constraints is complicated but one is easy –  that corresponding to a flat space and to the boundary
of a regular 4-simplex. This is given by all equal areas Anm = j0, all equal angles in = i0, and Θnm = Θ, where elementary geometry gives:


A boundary wave packet centered on these values must be correctly propagated by the vertex amplitude, if the vertex amplitude is to give the Einstein equations in the classical limit.

The simplest wave packet is a diagonal gaussian wave packet:


normal is the normalization factor. The constants σ and θ are fixed by the requirement that the state is peaked on the value in = i0  so all angles of the tetrahedron are equally peaked on in = i0 :


The state considered is formed by a gaussian state on the spins, with phases given by the extrinsic curvature and by a coherent tetrahedron state:


for each tetrahedron.

We can also write the wave packet


as an initial state times a final state:


We can then test the classical limit of the vertex amplitude by computing the evolution of the four incoming tetrahedra generated by the vertex amplitude and comparing φ(i) with ψ(i).:


So compare the evolved state flippedequ10with the coherent tetrahedron stateflippedequ7



If the function φ(i) turns out to be  close to the coherent tetrahedron state ψ(i), we can say that the flipped vertex amplitude appears to evolve four coherent tetrahedra into one coherent tetrahedron, consistently with the at solution of the classical Einstein equations.

The flipped vertex  in the present case is:



We compared the two functions ψ(i) -coherent tetrahedron and φ(i)  -evolved state for the cases jn = 2 and jn = 4. The numerical results are shown below:



The agreement between the evolved state and the coherent tetrahedron state is quite good. Besides the overall shape of the state, there is a concordance of the mean values and the widths of the wave packet.

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