Journal of High Energy Physics

, 2018:21 | Cite as

Local phase space and edge modes for diffeomorphism-invariant theories

  • Antony J. Speranza
Open Access
Regular Article - Theoretical Physics


We discuss an approach to characterizing local degrees of freedom of a subregion in diffeomorphism-invariant theories using the extended phase space of Donnelly and Freidel [36]. Such a characterization is important for defining local observables and entanglement entropy in gravitational theories. Traditional phase space constructions for subregions are not invariant with respect to diffeomorphisms that act at the boundary. The extended phase space remedies this problem by introducing edge mode fields at the boundary whose transformations under diffeomorphisms render the extended symplectic structure fully gauge invariant. In this work, we present a general construction for the edge mode symplectic structure. We show that the new fields satisfy a surface symmetry algebra generated by the Noether charges associated with the edge mode fields. For surface-preserving symmetries, the algebra is universal for all diffeomorphism-invariant theories, comprised of diffeomorphisms of the boundary, SL(2, ) transformations of the normal plane, and, in some cases, normal shearing transformations. We also show that if boundary conditions are chosen such that surface translations are symmetries, the algebra acquires a central extension.


Classical Theories of Gravity Models of Quantum Gravity 


Open Access

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maryland Center for Fundamental PhysicsUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkU.S.A.

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