BRST cohomology is Lie algebroid cohomology

Weizhen Jia, Marc S. Klinger, Robert G. Leigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we demonstrate that the exterior algebra of an Atiyah Lie algebroid generalizes the familiar notions of the physicist's BRST complex. To reach this conclusion, we develop a general picture of Lie algebroid isomorphisms as commutative diagrams between algebroids preserving the geometric structure encoded in their brackets. We illustrate that a necessary and sufficient condition for such a diagram to define a morphism of Lie algebroid brackets is that the two algebroids possess gauge-equivalent connections. This observation indicates that the aforementioned set of Lie algebroid isomorphisms should be regarded as equivalent to the set of local diffeomorphisms and gauge transformations. Moreover, a Lie algebroid isomorphism being a chain map in the exterior algebra sense ensures that isomorphic algebroids are cohomologically equivalent. The Atiyah Lie algebroids derived from principal bundles with common base manifolds and structure groups may therefore be divided into equivalence classes of isomorphic algebroids. Each equivalence class possesses a local representative which we refer to as the trivialized Lie algebroid, and we show that the exterior algebra of the trivialized algebroid gives rise to the BRST complex. We conclude by illustrating the usefulness of Lie algebroid cohomology in computing quantum anomalies, including applications to the chiral and Lorentz-Weyl (LW) anomalies. In particular, we pay close attention to the fact that the geometric intuition afforded by the Lie algebroid (which was absent in the naive BRST complex) provides hints of a deeper picture that simultaneously geometrizes the consistent and covariant forms of the anomaly. In the algebroid construction, the difference between the consistent and covariant anomalies is simply a different choice of basis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116317
JournalNuclear Physics B
StatePublished - Sep 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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