Constrained systems, generalized Hamilton-Jacobi actions, and quantization

Alberto S. Cattaneo*, Pavel Mnev, Konstantin Wernli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Mechanical systems (i.e., one-dimensional field theories) with constraints are the focus of this paper. In the classical theory, systems with infinite-dimensional targets are considered as well (this then encompasses also higher-dimensional field theories in the hamiltonian formalism). The properties of the Hamilton–Jacobi (HJ) action are described in details and several examples are explicitly computed (including nonabelian Chern–Simons theory, where the HJ action turns out to be the gauged Wess–Zumino–Witten action). Perturbative quantization, limited in this note to finite-dimensional targets, is performed in the framework of the Batalin–Vilkovisky (BV) formalism in the bulk and of the Batalin–Fradkin–Vilkovisky (BFV) formalism at the endpoints. As a sanity check of the method, it is proved that the semiclassical contribution of the physical part of the evolution operator is still given by the HJ action. Several examples are computed explicitly. In particular, it is shown that the toy model for nonabelian Chern–Simons theory and the toy model for 7D Chern–Simons theory with nonlinear Hitchin polarization do not have quantum corrections in the physical part (the extension of these results to the actual cases is discussed in the companion paper [21]). Background material for both the classical part (symplectic geometry, generalized generating functions, HJ actions, and the extension of these concepts to infinite-dimensional manifolds) and the quantum part (BV-BFV formalism) is provided.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geometric Mechanics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)179-272
Number of pages94
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • (generalized) generating functions
  • Batalin–Fradkin–Vilkovisky
  • Batalin–Vilkovisky
  • Chern–Simons
  • Hamilton–Jacobi
  • Kodaira–Spencer (BCOV) action
  • nonlinear (Hitchin) phase space polarization
  • Wess–Zumino–Witten


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