Axiomatic Quantum Field Theory in Curved Spacetime


DOI: 10.1007/s00220-009-0880-7

Cite this article as:
Hollands, S. & Wald, R.M. Commun. Math. Phys. (2010) 293: 85. doi:10.1007/s00220-009-0880-7


The usual formulations of quantum field theory in Minkowski spacetime make crucial use of features—such as Poincaré invariance and the existence of a preferred vacuum state—that are very special to Minkowski spacetime. In order to generalize the formulation of quantum field theory to arbitrary globally hyperbolic curved spacetimes, it is essential that the theory be formulated in an entirely local and covariant manner, without assuming the presence of a preferred state. We propose a new framework for quantum field theory, in which the existence of an Operator Product Expansion (OPE) is elevated to a fundamental status, and, in essence, all of the properties of the quantum field theory are determined by its OPE. We provide general axioms for the OPE coefficients of a quantum field theory. These include a local and covariance assumption (implying that the quantum field theory is constructed in a local and covariant manner from the spacetime metric and other background structure, such as time and space orientations), a microlocal spectrum condition, an “associativity” condition, and the requirement that the coefficient of the identity in the OPE of the product of a field with its adjoint have positive scaling degree. We prove curved spacetime versions of the spin-statistics theorem and the PCT theorem. Some potentially significant further implications of our new viewpoint on quantum field theory are discussed.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MathematicsCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.Enrico Fermi Institute and Department of PhysicsUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations