Geometry and Quantum Physics

Volume 543 of the series Lecture Notes in Physics pp 25-93


An Introduction to Spin Foam Models of BF Theory and Quantum Gravity

  • John C. BaezAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, University of California

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In loop quantum gravity we now have a clear picture of the quantum geometry of space, thanks in part to the theory of spin networks. The concept of ‘spin foam’ is intended to serve as a similar picture for the quantum geometry of spacetime. In general, a spin network is a graph with edges labeled by represen- tations and vertices labeled by intertwining operators. Similarly, a spin foam is a 2-dimensional complex with faces labeled by representations and edges labeled by intertwining operators. In a ‘spin foam model’ we describe states as linear combina- tions of spin networks and compute transition amplitudes as sums over spin foams. This paper aims to provide a self-contained introduction to spin foam models of quantum gravity and a simpler field theory called BF theory.