Quantum spaces are modular

Laurent Freidel, Robert G. Leigh, Djordje Minic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At present, our notion of space is a classical concept. Taking the point of view that quantum theory is more fundamental than classical physics, and that space should be given a purely quantum definition, we revisit the notion of Euclidean space from the point of view of quantum mechanics. Since space appears in physics in the form of labels on relativistic fields or Schrödinger wave functionals, we propose to define Euclidean quantum space as a choice of polarization for the Heisenberg algebra of quantum theory. We show, following Mackey, that generically, such polarizations contain a fundamental length scale and that contrary to what is implied by the Schrödinger polarization, they possess topologically distinct spectra. These are the modular spaces. We show that they naturally come equipped with additional geometrical structures usually encountered in the context of string theory or generalized geometry. Moreover, we show how modular space reconciles the presence of a fundamental scale with translation and rotation invariance. We also discuss how the usual classical notion of space comes out as a form of thermodynamical limit of modular space while the Schrödinger space is a singular limit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104052
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 22 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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