Communications in Mathematical Physics

, Volume 273, Issue 3, pp 705–754 | Cite as

Geometrical (2+1)-Gravity and the Chern-Simons Formulation: Grafting, Dehn Twists, Wilson Loop Observables and the Cosmological Constant

  • C. MeusburgerEmail author


We relate the geometrical and the Chern-Simons description of (2+1)-dimensional gravity for spacetimes of topology \({\mathbb{R}}\times S_g\) , where S g is an oriented two-surface of genus g > 1, for Lorentzian signature and general cosmological constant and the Euclidean case with negative cosmological constant. We show how the variables parametrising the phase space in the Chern-Simons formalism are obtained from the geometrical description and how the geometrical construction of (2+1)-spacetimes via grafting along closed, simple geodesics gives rise to transformations on the phase space. We demonstrate that these transformations are generated via the Poisson bracket by one of the two canonical Wilson loop observables associated to the geodesic, while the other acts as the Hamiltonian for infinitesimal Dehn twists. For spacetimes with Lorentzian signature, we discuss the role of the cosmological constant as a deformation parameter in the geometrical and the Chern-Simons formulation of the theory. In particular, we show that the Lie algebras of the Chern-Simons gauge groups can be identified with the (2+1)-dimensional Lorentz algebra over a commutative ring, characterised by a formal parameter ΘΛ whose square is minus the cosmological constant. In this framework, the Wilson loop observables that generate grafting and Dehn twists are obtained as the real and the ΘΛ-component of a Wilson loop observable with values in the ring, and the grafting transformations can be viewed as infinitesimal Dehn twists with the parameter ΘΛ.


Gauge Group Cosmological Constant Wilson Loop Poisson Structure Dehn Twist 
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© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Perimeter Institute for Theoretical PhysicsWaterlooCanada

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