• Register
PhysicsOverflow is a next-generation academic platform for physicists and astronomers, including a community peer review system and a postgraduate-level discussion forum analogous to MathOverflow.

Welcome to PhysicsOverflow! PhysicsOverflow is an open platform for community peer review and graduate-level Physics discussion.

Please help promote PhysicsOverflow ads elsewhere if you like it.


New printer friendly PO pages!

Migration to Bielefeld University was successful!

Please vote for this year's PhysicsOverflow ads!

Please do help out in categorising submissions. Submit a paper to PhysicsOverflow!

... see more

Tools for paper authors

Submit paper
Claim Paper Authorship

Tools for SE users

Search User
Reclaim SE Account
Request Account Merger
Nativise imported posts
Claim post (deleted users)
Import SE post

Users whose questions have been imported from Physics Stack Exchange, Theoretical Physics Stack Exchange, or any other Stack Exchange site are kindly requested to reclaim their account and not to register as a new user.

Public \(\beta\) tools

Report a bug with a feature
Request a new functionality
404 page design
Send feedback


(propose a free ad)

Site Statistics

145 submissions , 122 unreviewed
3,930 questions , 1,398 unanswered
4,853 answers , 20,624 comments
1,470 users with positive rep
501 active unimported users
More ...

History of the names "Feynman-gauge" & "Landau-gauge". How arised & how settled?

+ 8 like - 0 dislike

Warning: Students, stay away from antiquities. The aim to learn is to survive.

Hi. Today the nomenclatures Feynman gauge and Landau gauge seem established, but could you explain the history? It's two-fold: 1. Who used first such gauges and how? 2. How did the terminology gain ground?

It also inevitably asks some history of the Lorenz gauges in QFT. In particular, when was it realized that the freedom (and need) of the gauge parameter $\xi$ lies in quantum theory?

First I apologize that I have only limited access to literature on asking such questions. My preliminary studies revealed below.

1 Terminology in literature

Schweber (1961) is not gauge-parameter conscious, and "Lorentz[sic] gauge" (in Feynman gauge) is opposed to coulomb. But it also refers to today's Yennie gauge in sec 15g, saying Fried and Yennie (1958) found it is possible to take gauge where the photon propagator $\propto g + 2pp/p^2$.

In Nakanishi (1966), the word "Landau gauge" is seen, and it cites several near-past articles regarding Landau gauge quantization. (It is an important paper in canonical quantization in Landau gauge, together with Lautrup (1967). Nakanishi was a strong proponent of the Landau gauge.)

In p. 74 of Nakanashi (1972), it reads "Feynman gauge or Fermi gauge" and "Landau-Khalatonikov[sic] gauge, or simply Landau gauge". Landau and Khalatnikov (1955) is listed in the bibliography section, but I couldn't find which part of Nakanishi actually cites it. Nakanishi (1972) is a review article, one of whose main topics is canonical quantization of EM field in arbitrary Lorenz gauge, i.e., for any gauge parameter.

In p 134 of Itzykoson & Zuber, (1980) the words "Feynman gauge" and "Landau gauge" are used. Were the names settled at that time?

Hmm, in p 389 of Siegel (1999), "Fermi-Feynman gauge" is introduced. Srednicki (2007) uses the word "$R_\xi$" for QED, remarking "[it] has been historically used only in the context of spontaneous symmetry broken [...] but we will use it here as well."

2 Gauge parameter symbol

ξ is now usual. Is it due to Fujikawa, Lee and Sanda (1972)?

For other symbols, I mention $\alpha$. Nakanishi (1972) uses it, and even after Fujikawa, Lee and Sanda (1972) it is sometimes used, for example and in Siegel (1999).

3 Theory Timeline

1930 - Fermi: P. 240 of Schweber (1961) says Fermi proposed to add $-\frac{1}{2} (\partial A)^2$ to the Langrangian. (Fermi was the first to introduce a subsidiary condition, but it was not perfect. See also Gupta and Bleuler below.) Although I haven't checked Fermi's papers, it may be better to call "Fermi-Feynman(-'t Hooft) gauge."

1948 - Feynman: Feynman simply justifies the use of Feynman gauge in the section 8 of Feynman (1949). Before Feynman, it wasn't Lorentz covariant, and transverse photons were separated. Feynman says it's not necessary, and it's ok to do $\gamma^\mu$...$\gamma_\mu$.

1950 - Gupta & Bleuler: They say Gupta and Bleuler succeeds in covariant canonical quantization in Feynman gauge, by discovering the correct subsidiary condition.

1956 - Landau & Khalatnikov: See Nakanishi (1972) above.

1958 - Yennie gauge: It is said Fried and Yennie (1958) uses the "Yennie gauge" of today, $\xi = 3$, in bound state problems.

Early or mid 60's - Rise of interest in Landau gauge? See Nakanishi (1966) above.

1966 - 67 Nakanishi & Lautrup: canonical quantization of EM field for any ξ.

1967 - Faddeev & Popov

1971 - 't Hooft: In 1971, 't Hooft used "Feynman-'t Hooft gauge" or simply "'t Hooft gauge" for broken gauge symmetry. Fujikawa, Lee and Sanda (1972) generalized to any ξ. Its abstract uses the word "Feynman-'t Hooft gauge". (According to Weinberg. Haven't read both two.)

1972 - Still canonical quantization for arbitrary ξ is of interest, including massive vector field. See Nakanishi (1972).

4 Loren't'z gauge (misspelling)

You may know that in the 20th century, the common spelling was "Lorentz gauge", with extra "t". I couldn't find any exceptions at my hand. The turning point might be the errata of Peskin & Schroeder. Srednicki and Siegel spell it correctly.

5 Bibliography

6 Revisions of this question
Until 2014 (was in PSE)

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2016-06-21 08:20 (UTC), posted by SE-user teika kazura

asked Jun 24, 2014 in Theoretical Physics by teika kazura (100 points) [ revision history ]
edited Jun 21, 2016 by teika kazura

2 Answers

+ 5 like - 0 dislike

The terms "Landau gauge" and "Feynman gauge" (among others) were introduced by Bruno Zumino. I accidentally learned about it an hour ago from David Derbes


in this blog post about a sad event, Bruno Zumino's death a week ago. David Derbes wrote:

I met Bruno Zumino at the Scottish Universities Summer School in Physics at St. Andrews in 1976. A very jolly man. Supersymmetry and supergravity were just getting going.

By coincidence I was just reading a nice history of the first days of gauge invariance by J. D. Jackson and L. B. Okun that appeared in Rev. Mod. Phys. 73 (2001) 663 (arXiv:hep-ph/0012061). They cite Zumino's fine paper in J. Math. Phys. 1 (1960) 1, and in their paper say something that should be more widely known, imo:

"Various gauges have been associated with names of physicists, a process begun by Heitler, who introduced the term 'Lorentz relation' in the first edition of his book. In the third edition, [Heitler] used 'Lorentz gauge' and 'Coulomb gauge'. Zumino (1960) introduced the terms 'Feynman gauge', 'Landau gauge' and 'Yennie gauge'."

http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/jmp/1/1/10.1063/1.1703632 (Abstract)

Zumino's original model with Wess involved many more fields; but in "Zumino gauge" it was restricted to the few fields Lubos describes. Only fair that Bruno Zumino got his own gauge.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2016-06-21 08:20 (UTC), posted by SE-user Luboš Motl
answered Jun 28, 2014 by Luboš Motl (10,248 points) [ no revision ]
Thanks to you and David Derbes for informing. Jackson & Okun (Wow.) is available at arXiv, and I can come by Zumino's JMP, too. Maybe I can report a bit more somewhere. As for the timing of this question, what a coincidence. We're all fine-tuned. May RIP.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2016-06-21 08:20 (UTC), posted by SE-user teika kazura
What I'd like to know is, where I can find a reference where the Lorenz gauge quantisation of the electromagnetic field is realised in the fashion of Gupta and Bleuler, but without any particular choice for the Lagrange multiplier $\xi$. Many references, such as Itzykson & Zuber, affirm that "the results are independent of $\xi$". If by that they mean that the Faraday tensor $F^{\mu\nu}$ is, then we agree. I'd just like to see to what extent this modifies the Gupta-Bleuler procedure. I think I could do it myself but if this can be found somewhere that might save me the time.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2016-06-21 08:20 (UTC), posted by SE-user Vinsanity
@Vinsanity - I find your question confusing because you seem to combine several things. First, the Lorenz gauge is a strict notion, either classical gauge or the "xi is infinity" limit of the R_xi gauges. Those are used for calculations of complicated diagrams with photon propagators and the physical results may be seen to be xi-independent but it's not "quite trivial" although the result may be justified more conceptually. However, the Gupta-Bleuler quantization is a treatment of the external photons which includes the unphysical polarizations and then says how to decouple those.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2016-06-21 08:20 (UTC), posted by SE-user Luboš Motl
@Luboš I'm only concerned about the free EM field here (not to say interacting fields don't interest me, but it's not the topic of my question) for which all photons are external. The solution to the Maxwell equations for the vector potential depends on the value of $\xi$, and thus, as far as I can guess, so does the implementation of the Gupta-Bleuler procedure. Would that be correct?

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2016-06-21 08:20 (UTC), posted by SE-user Vinsanity
If you only consider the free field, then the equations for all polarizations are just "box A mu is zero" regardless of xi. The indefinite Hilbert space is the same for each xi, too. The natural normalizatoin of some polarizations etc. may depend on xi but there's no way to choose "natural" if you don't want to consider propagators and interactions. So I don't know what you mean by the xi-dependence of the GB procedure of anything else. The answer to the procedure is just the space of states and it's the same for each xi.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2016-06-21 08:20 (UTC), posted by SE-user Luboš Motl
Take a look at the wave equation (2.4.127) on page 226 of physics.purdue.edu/~clarkt/Courses/Physics662/ps/qftch24.pdf for instance. Here what I call $\xi$ is called $\alpha$. The solution has the less than agreeable form (2.4.137). I think, however, that (2.4.138) is incorrect, in that the second summand under the integral is discarded without reason. If (2.4.138) is correct then the Gupta-Bleuler quantisation will indeed be straightforward regardless of the value taken by $\alpha$ ($\xi$). But I don't think that (2.4.138) is correct.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2016-06-21 08:20 (UTC), posted by SE-user Vinsanity
+ 0 like - 0 dislike

Abraham Pais also gives the same hint on Fermi's proposal: A. Pais, ''Inward Bound: Of Matter and Forces in the Physical World'', Oxford University Press, (1986); pag. 354. I read Fermi's paper, but he never start with a Lagrangian. I think that he had it in mind, because he write an Hamiltonian WITH ALL CONIUGATED MOMENTA, and this is equivalent to start with a Lagrangian where the gauge fixing has been added.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2016-06-21 08:20 (UTC), posted by SE-user Alessio Rocci
answered Jan 4, 2015 by Alessio Rocci (0 points) [ no revision ]

My comment is somewhat special: I quote a review by Polubarinov with an important introduction by Pervushin. The latter considers the Coulomb gauge "more fundamental".

Your answer

Please use answers only to (at least partly) answer questions. To comment, discuss, or ask for clarification, leave a comment instead.
To mask links under text, please type your text, highlight it, and click the "link" button. You can then enter your link URL.
Please consult the FAQ for as to how to format your post.
This is the answer box; if you want to write a comment instead, please use the 'add comment' button.
Live preview (may slow down editor)   Preview
Your name to display (optional):
Privacy: Your email address will only be used for sending these notifications.
Anti-spam verification:
If you are a human please identify the position of the character covered by the symbol $\varnothing$ in the following word:
Then drag the red bullet below over the corresponding character of our banner. When you drop it there, the bullet changes to green (on slow internet connections after a few seconds).
To avoid this verification in future, please log in or register.

user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required

Your rights