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LSZ Reduction Formula

A Derivation

Sine of Psi

February 9, 2016

0. References

The arguments presented in these notes are based on the “LSZ Reduction Formula” Wikipedia article,

Srednicki’s “Quantum Field Theory”, Peskin & Schroeder’s “An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory”,

and Schwartz’s “Quantum Field Theory and the Standard Model”.

1. Single Particle and Multiparticle States

Previously 1 we showed that if we choose our Lorentz-invariant Lagrangian 2 to be,

L 0 =

1

2 µ φ∂ µ φ

1 2

2 m

0

φ 2 ,

then we get the Klein-Gordon equation (KG eq) from the Euler-Lagrange equations (EL eq):

(2 + m 0 )φ(x) = 0

2

Note: I’m using subscript zeroes to denote certain quantities as corresponding to “the free theory”–that is,

the theory as it appears without interactions. We found a Lorentz-invariant solution to the KG eq that we

called a ﬁeld,

φ 0 (x, t) =

d 3 k (2π) 3

1

2ω k a k e ikx + a

e +ikx

k

k 2 and the Fourier coeﬃcients a k , a k are independent of time. In particular,

because φ 0 transforms as a scalar under Lorentz transformations, we call this ﬁeld the free massive real

scalar ﬁeld and call its Lagrangian the free massive real scalar Lagrangian. We subsequently quantized

the ﬁeld, yielding the notationally-similar expression,

where k 0 = w k m

0 2 +

φ 0 (x, t) =

ˆ

d 3 k (2π) 3

2ω k aˆ 0 ( k)e ikx + aˆ 0 ( k)e +ikx

1

1 I will be using the “mostly-minus” metric, following the typical high-energy convention. 2 This is technically a Lagrangian density; however, it’s conventional in QFT to call L a Lagrangian because we rarely care about the Lagrangian L but frequently talk about the Lagrangian density L.

where our Fourier coeﬃcients are now creation/annihilation operators on a Hilbert space. We say that

ˆ

φ 0 (x, t) is a quantum ﬁeld and, in particular, is the free massive real scalar quantum ﬁeld. The Fourier

coeﬃcients are creation/annihilation operators in the sense that they satisfy the commutation relations of

(the continuum-equivalent of) a simple harmonic oscillator,

a 0 ( k 1 ),

a

0 (

k 1 ),

a 0 ( k 1 ),

aˆ 0 ( k 2 )] =

0

aˆ

0 (

k 2 )] = 0

aˆ 0 ( k 2 )] = (2π) 3 (2ω k 1 )δ 3 ( k 1 k 2 )

We have yet to tie this to a physical interpretation. Let’s do so now. We ﬁrst postulate the existence of

the free vacuum. A theory’s vacuum is what the universe looks like according to that theory when no

particles are present. 3 In the free theory, it’s usually denoted by |0 , and it corresponds to an eigenstate of

ˆ

the 4-momentum operator P µ with eigenvalue p µ = 0. We’ll normalize |0 so that 0|0 = 1. Furthermore,

we assume that the vacuum is Lorentz-invariant. That is, you can’t make particles appear by boosting

yourself into a new reference frame. 4

Let’s deﬁne a ket |k to describe the universe with a single particle of momentum k and demand it satisfy,

|k aˆ

0 (

k) |0

With this deﬁnition, we have the following normalization for single-particle states 5 :

k 1 |k 2 = (2π) 3 2ω k 1 δ( k 1 k 2 )

k) act as a cre-

ation operator that creates a single-particle with momentum k, it must be the case that aˆ 0 ( k) acts as an

In perfect analogy with the simple harmonic oscillator, because we have deﬁned that ˆa

0 (

k. If there is no such particle to

annihilate, then the annihilation operator spits out zero. This means that the vacuum is also deﬁned to be

annihilation operator that destroys a single particle with momentum

3 QFT calls any excitation of the vacuum a particle, even if that excitation is not a particle in the colloquial sense. Addi- tionally, a vacuum state might be empty of particles only in the sense that whatever stuﬀ the vacuum is made of lacks any excitations. For example, in many-body physics, the vacuum could be the ground state of a multi-molecular compound and the particles could be complicated vibrational modes of the compound. In high-energy physics, the vacuum is often spacetime itself. 4 There’s a non-trivial technicality here: a theory can sometimes have more than one vacuum. Not only is this possible, but the Standard Model of particle physics requires a degenerate vacuum in order for particles to gain mass.

5 Exercise: Prove this equation using the deﬁnition of |k and the properties of aˆ

0 (

k).

Figure 1: Each curve represents values of (|p |, E) for invariant masses available in the free theory. The lowest curve corresponds to single-particle states, each of which has a mass m 0 . The next highest curve

corresponds to two-particle states with mass 2m 0 . Above the two-particle curve lies a continuum of states.

P = i p i but

This is because, for instance, there exist many multiparticle states with total momentum

diﬀering total energies E = i E i (due to relative motions of particles) thereby yielding every invariant

mass M E 2 P 2 larger than 2m 0 .

the state that is annihilated by every annihilation operator: ˆa 0 ( k) |0 = 0 for all k.

A multiparticle state is constructed by applying multiple creation operators. Unlike introductory quantum

mechanics, we need not worry about symmetrizing or antisymmetrizing any states. The commutation rela-

tions of the operators ensure the appropriate statistics are obeyed. Figure 1 summarizes the mass spectrum

of a free theory.

2. S-Matrix Elements and the Far Past, Far Future

Experiments often involve setting up an initial state, letting it evolve over time, and then extracting some

kind of physical information from the ﬁnal state. QFT is often played with scattering experiments, with the

following progression of events:

1. Initial State: Fire known particles at one-another at some given energy. 6

6 The particles might be fundamental particles like electrons or eﬀective particles such as nuclei and atoms. So long as whatever we’re throwing doesn’t break into a new realm of physics during the experiment (e.g. throwing protons at low enough energies as to not care about their quark structure), it’s good enough to be a particle.

2. ???: Particles near each other. Interactions between diﬀerent particles cause quantum-weirdness.

3. Final State: New particles ﬂy out and we measure their 4-momentum, charge, etc.

As we might expect from quantum mechanics, the probabilty of getting a certain ﬁnal state from a certain

initial state is related to the overlap of their corresponding wavefunctions. If |i describes our initial incoming

particles, then the probability that we end up with a ﬁnal state |f of ﬁnal outgoing particles is related to

the quantum amplitude,

S fi f|i H

which we call an S-matrix element. The subscript H indicates that this expression holds in the Heisenberg

picture, where each state is time-independent and operators evolve in time. We could alternatively use the

Schr¨odinger picture, where each operator is time-independent and states evolve in time. Switching from one

picture to the other requires we recast our formally time-independent states into time-dependent forms. In

this vein, suppose we deﬁne our initial state |i at some initial time t i . Similarly, let’s deﬁne our ﬁnal state

|f at some ﬁnal time t f . To complete the conversion, we must compare these states at some equal time t c .

In this language, the equal-time kets become,

such that,

|i(t c ) =

exp i H(t c t i ) |i ≡ U(t c , t i ) |i

ˆ

ˆ

|f(t c ) = exp i H(t f t c ) |f ≡ U(t f , t c ) |f

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

f|i H = f(t c )|i(t c ) S = f| U(t f , t c ) U(t c , t i ) |i S = f| U(t f , t i ) |i S

where the subscript S indicates when we’re using the Shr¨odinger picture. A natural follow-up question

becomes: when should our initial time and ﬁnal time occur? This is tricky because such a choice is inherently

frame-dependent. QFT dodges this conundrum entirely by taking the initial and ﬁnal times to t = −∞ and

t = +respectively. In this context, we call t → −∞ the far past and t +the far future. 7 This is,

7 Too bad we also care about unstable particles which (by virtue of their instability) cannot survive to the far future. Handling decay phenomena requires additional care, but can be done. It’s irrelevant to our current purposes however.

of course, an approximation, but it’s a very good one in our region of the universe. In this approximation,

S fi =

lim →∓∞ f|

t i ,t f

ˆ

U(t f , t i ) |i S

Much of QFT centers around calculating S-matrix elements for various processes. However, the formulae

we’ve developed thus far are not useful for such calculations. In particular, our discussion has been limited to

Hamiltonian-based time-evolution which muddies up special relativity because of the Hamiltonian’s Lorentz-

variance. It would be nice to, instead, relate the calculation of S-matrix elements to the Lorentz-invariant

ﬁelds we’ve developed over these last few weeks. Such a relation does exist, and that relation is the LSZ

reduction formula. 8 I will be deriving the LSZ reduction formula for interacting massive real scalar ﬁelds.

The generalization to massive complex scalar ﬁelds poses no complications. 9

3. Interactions and the Mass Shift

Of course, if we want to discuss (nontrivial) scattering experiments, we need to include interaction terms

in our Lagrangian. But turning on interactions comes at a conceptual cost. In the free theory, it wasn’t

game-breaking to leave the time at which we deﬁned our creation/annihilation operators unspeciﬁed. This

is because the creation/annihilation operators only ever gain a phase as time evolves. 10 When interactions

are present, an operator that creates a single-particle at one time may create a multiparticle state at another

time. This can be traced back to time-evolution of our ﬁelds:

ˆ

φ(x) e i

ˆ

Ht

ˆ

ˆ

φ(x)e +i Ht ,

where

e +i

ˆ

Ht

n

(i

ˆ

Ht) n

n!

Interaction terms in our Lagrangian will combine numerous quantum ﬁelds. By introducing such interaction

terms into our Lagrangian, we cause new equally-complicated terms in our Hamiltonian as well. Then, as

indicated, we time-evolve our ﬁelds by multiplying both sides with power series of those terms. This is how

the creation of single-particle states at any one time becomes the creation of multiparticle states at other

times.

8 Sometimes this is simply called the reduction formula. 9 More general forms of the LSZ reduction formula hold for massive particles with nonzero spin, but will involve polariza- tion elements and additional renormalization parameters. Massless particles have additional symmetries that complicate the relationship between ﬁelds and S-matrix elements. 10 Exercise: Show this using the Heisenberg picture. Additionally, show this is equivalent to |k remaining the same up to a phase as time evolves in the Schr¨odinger picture.

Figure 2: A qualitative illustration of the typical mass spectrum of an interacting theory. Like the free theory, we have a single-particle curve and a continuum of states with invariant mass M 2m. Note that these now occur at multiples of the interacting mass m which is generally not equal to the free mass m 0 . There exist additional curves between the single-particle and two-particle states corresponding to 2-particle bound states. These generically possess invariant masses M 2m.

Additionally, the introduction of interactions complicates our vacuum. Even the free vacuum is a background

static of quantum ﬂuctuations reminiscent of particles popping in and out of existence even when the total

particle number of the universe is zero. Interactions mean more static. This new, fuzzier vacuum is called the

interacting vacuum and is denoted | . Like the free vacuum, it is annihilated by annihilation operators;

however, our annihilation operators are also complicated by interactions. It is a nontrivial mess to sort out

and it’s something we’re going to have to deal with if we want to prove the LSZ reduction formula.

Lastly, I want to clarify how interactions aﬀect the masses of our particles. A free particle propagates

forever, but an interacting particle will radiate as it propagates, such that–even if it’s the only particle

in the universe–it will end up interacting with itself. This is an important eﬀect that we’ll analyze more

in-depth later in the class. For now, we will only focus on a qualitative consequence of this self-interaction:

namely, the mass of an interacting particle is diﬀerent than the free mass that shows up in the Lagrangian of

the theory. This is because interacting particles are constantly throwing out and subsequently reabsorbing

particles. This perpetual juggling alters the long-term propagation eﬀects of our particles (compared to the

free theory) and thus inﬂuences each particle’s mass. We say that there is a mass shift between the free

mass m 0 and the interacting mass m. 11 We must proceed with caution.

11 You can think of the interacting mass as an eﬀective mass. For instance, a photon in free space is massless (m 0 = 0) so it travels at the speed of light. We can ﬁre that same photon into a superconductor, where it’ll slow down and act like it possesses

4. Inverting the Inhomogeneous KG Eq

Let’s get quantitative. If we add new terms (generically called L int ) to our free Lagrangian L 0 , we can make

our scalar ﬁeld interact with itself:

L =

1

2

µ φ∂ µ φ

1

2 m

2

0 φ 2 + L int

Applying the EL eq to this gives us an inhomogeneous version of the KG eq,

(2 + m 0 )φ(x) = j 0 (x) L ∂φ int

2

We begin our derivation of the LSZ reduction formula by inverting this equation. Suppose we know a Green’s

function of the KG eq. That is, suppose we have some function f (x) such that (2 + m 0 )f(x) = δ 4 (x).

Conceptually, the Green’s function solves the inhomogeneous KG eq for a “point current”. By integrating

over point currents δ 4 (x y) at each point y, we can reconstruct any current j 0 (x) we want. This would

solve any (non-quantized) scalar theory with interactions.

2

It turns out the Green’s functions of the KG eq are related to 2-point correlation functions such as

will simply state (to be proved another day) that there are (among others) two Green’s functions called the

retarded propagator ret (x) and the advanced propagator adv (x). The retarded propagator allows

us to express an interaction current in terms of its construction via ﬁelds at earlier times. Similarly, the

advanced propagator allows us to express an interaction current in terms of its inﬂuence on ﬁelds at later

times.

| φ(x 1 ) φ(x 2 ) | .

ˆ

ˆ

We will not go into details about 2-point correlation functions right now.

Based on my earlier comments, we shouldn’t expect the masses of the free particles (m 0 ) to equal the masses

of the interacting particles (m). Let’s reorganize the inhomogeneous KG eq with that in mind:

(2 + m 0 )φ(x) = j 0 (x)

2

(2 + m 0 )φ(x) + (m 2

2

m 0 )φ(x) = j 0 (x) + (m 2 m 0 )φ(x)

2

2

(2 + m 2 )φ(x) = j 0 (x) + (m 2 m 0 )φ(x)

2

a mass m

= 0. This eﬀective mass phenomena is responsible for the ﬁnite skin-depth of magnetic ﬁelds into superconductors.

Hence,

(2 + m 2 )φ(x) = j(x),

where

j(x) j 0 (x) + (m 2 m 0 )φ(x)

2

This is the equation we wish to invert. Using the retarded propagator, we can build forward in time so that

our solution to the inhomogeneous KG eq will be a sum of homogeneous KG solutions in the far past and

the speciﬁc solution corresponding to the current.

φ(x) = √ Z φ in (x)| t=−∞
+ d 4 y ∆ ret (x − y)j(y)
homogeneous solution
inhomogeneous solution

The in-ﬁeld φ in (x)| t= is a free ﬁeld with mass m. 12 The constant Z is called the wavefunction renor-

malization. We can decompose the quantized form of Equation into a sum of plane waves multiplying

operators:

φ ˆ in ( x)

t=−∞ = d 3 k (2π) 3

1

2ω k e ikx aˆ in ( k) + e +ikx aˆ in ( k)

1

t=−∞

Like we discussed earlier, we can only deﬁne one speciﬁc moment worth of creation/annihilation opera-

Time-evolving will mixing those cre-

ation/annihilation operators in such a way that they create/annihilate multiparticle states as well. Thus, we

tors aˆ

in (

k), aˆ in ( k) corresponding to the full interacting ﬁeld

ˆ

φ(x).

shouldn’t expect aˆ

whole inhomogeneous solution worth of complications separating φ(x) and φ in (x). We will have to check if

aˆ

section.

k), aˆ in ( k) will behave like creation/annihilation operators, especially because there’s a

in (

ˆ

ˆ

in (

k), aˆ in ( k) behave like single-particle creation/annihilation operators, which is what we’ll do in the next

There’s also some ambiguity in the above formula because of an inﬁnite phase e ±iω k . This phase is

unimportant for proving the LSZ reduction formula. To sidestep the issue, let’s time-evolve the in-ﬁeld

to a ﬁnite time, but do so using the free Hamiltonian H 0 instead of the full Hamiltonian H. Choosing

to evolve our operators with the free Hamiltonian while an interacting Hamiltonian is present is called

the interaction picture. It’s nice because we know that the free Hamiltonian doesn’t mix single-particle

operators with multiparticle operators. Therefore, it won’t hurt us when we examine how ˆa

k), aˆ in ( k)

in (

12 To really drive this point home, the mass of the free ﬁeld φ 0 (x) for this same theory is some number that we label m 0 . Depending on the content of L int , diﬀerent mass shifts will occur, and thus diﬀerent interacting theories with common m 0 will generate diﬀerent asymptotic/physical masses m. Alternatively, we could demand several theories (each with their own L int ) generate the same asymptotic mass m, in which case they’d each have to possess diﬀerent values of m 0 .

relate to single-particle operators in the next section. We deﬁne, for any time,

φ in (x) = d 3 k

ˆ

1

2ω k e ikx aˆ in ( k, t) + e +ikx aˆ in ( k, t)

1

(2π) 3

This implies,

aˆ in ( k, t) = i d 3 x e ikx

 † ˆ ↔ φ in (x) 0

We recover the in-ﬁeld when t → −∞.

∗∗

We must do one more thing. If we proceed as we are, we’ll butt heads with fundamental quantum mechanics.

Namely, we will be at odds with the uncertainty principle. We want our particles to be spatially localized

at the far past and far future but that can only happen if there is some uncertainty in their momenta, and

right now we’re only discussing exact momentum eigenstates. What we should use instead are wavepackets

of momentum eigenstates localized about some 3-momentum, say k:

aˆ in ( k, t) d 3 w

k

( a in ( , t) = i d 3 w

k

( ) d 3 x e i x

0

ˆ

φ

in (x)

where w

function is vital to avoiding inﬁnities in our proof.

k

( ) is a function of momenta that is sharply peaked around

k. The smearing performed by this

5. Do aˆ

in (

k) create single-particle states?

If we want aˆ

to overlap only with single-particle states. That is, ideally,

in (

k), aˆ in ( k) to behave like creation/annihilation operators in the interacting theory, they need

| aˆ in | = 0

k| aˆ in | = 0

p, n| aˆ in | = 0

where |p, n labels a multiparticle state with total 4-momentum p and other quantum numbers n.

If we can manage | aˆ in ( k) | = 0 for all k, then we’ll have | φ in (0) | = 0. Suppose we instead have

ˆ

ˆ

v | φ in (0) | = 0. By replacing every φ(x) in the Lagrangian with φ(x)+v, we will shift this expectation

ˆ

value and we’ll have, by construction, | φ in (x) | = 0. Our creation/annihilation operators will always

appear in ﬁelds, so this is good enough.

Consider next the multiparticle states |p, n . Each state will have some invariant mass M n,p p µ p µ . To

start things oﬀ, note that,

ˆ

p, n| φ in (x) | = p, n| e +i

ˆ

Px

ˆ

φ ˆ in (0)e i Px | ,

ˆ

= e +ipx p, n| φ in (0) | ,

e +ipx A n (p )

where A n (p ) is a Lorentz-invariant product of various 4-momenta that specify the state, but which cannot

have position dependence.

We hope that p, n| aˆ

made us tie the incoming particles together into wave packets), we should focus on normalizable combinations

k) | equals zero. For mathematical consistency (and to avoid the same issues that

in (

of |p, n :

|ψ q d 3 p ψ n,q (p ) |p, n

n

where the ψ n,q (p ) are wave packets sharply peaked around the total three-momentum q . We perform the

calculations at ﬁnite time and then take the limit as we approach the far future. Using Equation ∗∗,

ψ| aˆ in ( k, t) | = i d 3 p ψ n,q (p ) d 3 w

q

n

k

( ) d 3 x e i x

0

ˆ

p, n| φ(x) | ,

= i d 3 p ψ n,q (p ) d 3 w ( ) d 3 x e i x ∂ e +ipx A n (p ),

n

k

0

= d 3 p ψ n,q (p ) d 3 w

n

k

( ) d 3 x (p 0 + 0 )e i(p )x A n (p )

But d 3 x e i(p

)· x

= (2π) 3 δ 3 (p ), so,

ψ| aˆ

q

in (

k, t)

| = d 3 p (2π) 3 (p 0 + 0 )ψ n,q (p )w

n

k

(p )A n (p )e i(p 0 0 )t

where p 0 p 2 + M n,p and 0 p 2 + m 2 . Recall Figure 2, wherein we established that M n,p 2m > m.

2

 Given this, p 0 > 0 so that p 0 − 0 = 0. By the Riemann-Lebesgue Lemma, 13 the RHS goes to zero as |t| → +∞, so

ψ| aˆ

q

in (

k) | =

t→−∞ q ψ| aˆ

lim

in (

k, t) | = 0

Hence, our aˆ in operator might create multiparticle states at arbitrary times but as we go into the far past

those contributions vanish. A similar argument holds for q ψ| aˆ in ( k) | . This implies q ψ| φ in (x) | 0

in the far past. 14

ˆ

If we attempt to repeat the multiparticle argument for one-particle states, we would ﬁnd there exists an

integration region where p 0 0 , and hence the Riemann-Lebesgue Lemma is inapplicable. (This is good

 ˆ ˆ ˆ because otherwise we’d be forced to conclude φ in (x) = 0 in the inﬁnite past, which would make φ in (x)

ˆ

useless to us.) Because φ in (x)

ˆ

the case that φ

ˆ

ˆ

= 0 by assumption, yet | φ in (x) | = 0 and q ψ| φ

ˆ

in (

k) is a one-particle operator in the inﬁnite past.

in (

k) |0 0, it must be

With this result in hand, let’s return to the quantized form of Equation .

φ(x) = Z φ in (x) + d 4 y ret (x y) j(y)

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

In 1955, the German physicists H. Lehmann, K. Symanzik, and W. Zimmermann (the L, S, and Z of LSZ)

demonstrated 15 that the single-particle behavior of

the following weak asymptotic relation:

ˆ

φ in (x) t= combined with the above equation imply

x 0

lim d 3 x e ipx β|

0

φ(x) |α = Z d 3 x e ipx β|

ˆ

0

ˆ

φ in (x) |α

where |α , |β are normalizable states. Note that (thanks to the limit) the left-hand side is independent of

time, while the right-hand side still carries an explicit time variable. This is only consistent if the time-

dependence of e ipx exactly counteracts the time-dependence of the rest of the expression, which says the

operator on the RHS looks like a single-particle creation operator in the interaction picture. We will use an

13 The Riemann-Lebesgue Lemme states that the integral of a smooth function against a rapidly oscillating wave goes to zero as the oscillations become inﬁnitely rapid. In the limit, the wave oscillates between positive and negative so rapidly that adjacent points cancel exactly.

14 Exercise: Show that q

15 Lehmann, H.; Symanzik, K.; Zimmermann, W.; “Zur Formulierung quantisierter Feldtheorien” Nuovo Cim. 1 (1955) 205

ˆ

ψ| φ in (x) | 0

equivalent version of this expression. Speciﬁcally, via Equation ∗∗,

x 0

d 3 x e ipx β|

lim

0

φ(x) |α = i Z β| aˆ

ˆ

in (

k) |α ,

which is, upon reorganizing,

β| aˆ in ( k) |α = i

 † ˆ ↔ φ(x) |α 0

Z

x 0

lim d 3 x e ipx β|

(∗ ∗ ∗) 1

We can repeat this analysis (solving the inhomogeneous KG eq) using the advanced propagator to work with

states in the future called out-states,

φ(x) = out (x) + d 4 y adv (x y)j(y)

β| aˆ out ( k) |α = i

 † lim →+∞ d 3 x e −ipx β| ∂ ↔ 0 ˆ φ(x) |α √ Z x 0

6. The Proof

Consider the matrix element,

ˆ

ˆ

M ≡ f| T{ φ(y 1 ) ··· φ(y n )}|k; i

(∗ ∗ ∗) 2

The symbol T {· · · } denotes the time-ordering operator which takes in some number of ﬁelds and rear-

ranges them such that they are ordered with the latest times to the left and the earliest times to the right.

This ensures causality when creating/annihilating particles. We’ll see it many times in the future. As a

quick example, suppose t 1 < t 2 < t 3 . Then,

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

T{ φ( y 1 , t 1 ) φ( y 3 , t 3 ) φ( y 2 , t 2 )} = φ(

y 3 , t 3 ) φ( y 2 , t 2 ) φ( y 1 , t 1 )

ˆ

The time-ordering ignores the commutation relations of φ(x) because it’s really just receiving a list of what

ﬁelds are inside of it and then spitting them out in reverse-chronological order. Things get complicated when

we ask it to time-order multiple ﬁelds that are at the same time (then you have to start worrying about

picking a convention). We can dodge that bullet by saying no two ﬁelds occur at the same time. If we later

want two ﬁelds occurring at the same time, then we can just take the limit of our result as those two times

become identical. In this way, the subtleties of time-ordering need not hinder our proof.

Note that the matrix element M is notably more general than an S-matrix element. This is for the sake of

creating an inductive proof. Continuing to be careful about wavepackets transforms M into,

M =

d 3 p w

k

ˆ

ˆ

) f| T{ φ(y 1 ) ··· φ(y n )}aˆ in (p ) |i

(p

Assume there are no other particles with momentum p in the out-state; that is, ignore forward scattering.

This assumption restricts what questions the LSZ formula can answer. However, just like the case of identical

time in the time-ordering operator, the forward scattering case can be recovered after-the-fact by taking the

limit of our result as an out-state momentum approaches an in-state momentum. With this assumption,

d 3 p w

k

ˆ

ˆ

) f| aˆ out (p )T{ φ(y 1 ) ··· φ(y n )}|i = 0

(p

Subtracting these and applying Equations ∗ ∗ ∗ yields,

M =

d 3 p w

k

) f| T{ φ(y 1 ) ··· φ(y n )}aˆ in (p ) aˆ out (p )T{ φ(y 1 ) ··· φ(y n )} |i

(p

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

=

√ −i Z d 3 p w

k

)

(p

x

0

→−∞

lim

d 3 x e ipx

0

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

f| T{ φ(y 1 ) ··· φ(y n )} φ(x) |i

=

x 0

√ −i Z d 3 p w

+ d 3 x e ipx

lim

0

f| φ(x)T{ φ(y 1 ) ··· φ(y n )}|i

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

k

)

(p

x

0

x

0

+ d 3 x e ipx

0

lim

lim

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

f| T{ φ(x) φ(y 1 ) ··· φ(y n )}|i

η(x)

=

=

i Z d 3 p w

i Z d 3 p w

k

k

) d(x 0 ) 0 d 3 x e ipx

(p

0

η(x)

) d 4 x e ipx

(p

2

0

η(x) η(x)

2 e ipx

0

Note that e ipx solves the KG equation, so

2 e ipx = (
0

2 m 2 )e ipx . Using this and integrating by parts

yields (noting the surface terms are eliminated by the Riemann-Lebesgue Theorem),

Therefore,

M

=

i Z d 3 p w

k

) d 4 x e ikx (2

(p

0

2 + m 2 )η(x)

Z d 4 x e ikx (

i

2

0

2 + m 2 )η(x)

ˆ

ˆ i Z d 4 x e ikx (2 + m 2 ) f| T{ φ(x) φ(y 1 ) ··· φ(y n )}|i

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

f| T{ φ(y 1 ) ··· φ(y n )}|k; i =

On the RHS we have a time-ordered correlation function of the form we started with. We can follow the

same procedure to pull another particle from the in-state. After we remove all of the in-state particles, we

can begin removing out-state particles by a related procedure.

By induction, we obtain the LSZ reduction formula for interacting massive real scalar ﬁelds:

p 1 ··· p n |q 1 ··· q m =

 n d 4 x i i √ Z e iq i x i (∂ i + m 2 ) m j=1 d 4 y j i √ i=1 2 x Z e −ip j y j (∂ 2 y j

ˆ

+ m 2 ) | T{ φ(x 1 ) ··· φ(x n ) φ(y 1 ) ··· φ(y m )}|

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

This result is strange for a few reasons. For instance, note that we have to multiply by the KG equation

for each initial or ﬁnal particle. However, we associate the initial and ﬁnal particles with essentially-free

particles (up to the wavefunction renormalization), so we could reasonably expect the KG equation to vanish

for each of these particles. It turns out that’s exactly what happens. The only time that the LSZ reduction

formula doesn’t return zero is when there are poles in the RHS time-ordered correlation function for each

and every asymptotic particle. If the time-ordered correlation functions lacks these poles, then the LSZ

reduction formula asserts |i never becomes |f .

Also, it turns out the result is valid beyond single-particle excitations of the vacuum. This includes some

of the bound states illustrated in Figure 2. Despite lacking a fundamental ﬁeld, there are ways to create

appropriate ﬁeld combination that–when plugged into the LSZ reduction formula–yield information about

those bound states. The theory knows about all of its asymptotic states, we just have to ask it the appropriate

questions.

15

7. Calculating the Wavefunction Renormalization

| φ(x) |p = Z | φ in (x) |p t= + d 4 y ret (x y) | j(y) |p

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

We now know that both φ(x) and

equation to both sides, we get

φ in (x) t= create single-particle states. Hence, when we apply the KG

ˆ

0 =

d 4 y

δ 4 (x y) | j(y) |p = | j(x) |p

ˆ

ˆ

for all x. Therefore,

| φ(x) |p = Z | φ in (x) |p

ˆ

ˆ

∗ ∗ ∗∗

Conceptually,

generally operates on multiparticle states as well. We can view the wavefunction renormalization as a sort of

re-weighting to take this diﬀerence into account. After all, the interacting ﬁeld

some of its potency on single-particle states to its interactions with multiparticle states.

φ(x) is in some sense losing

φ in (x) t= acts like a free ﬁeld so it only operates on single-particle states. Meanwhile, φ(x)

ˆ

ˆ

ˆ

When we originally wrote L (and L 0 for that matter), we implicitly chose a normalization for our kinetic term:

L kinetic = 1 2 µ φ∂ µ φ. While every other term in a Lagrangian L comes with a generic variable multiplying it,

we will always choose a kinetic term with coeﬃcient 1 2 . Unsurprisingly, kinetic terms dictate how particles

move in our theory such that altering that coeﬃcient will have implications on particle propagation. 16

Therefore, the wavefunction renormalization Z is extremely important in ensuring the physicality of our

theory.

The ﬁnal thing I want to do in these notes is derive an expression for the wavefunction renormalization Z

16 Although, it aﬀects propagation in a diﬀerent sense than the mass shift. The details are technical and best saved until we have better machinery. Roughly speaking, there’s an object called the propagator that measures the likelihood a particle propagates from one momentum to another. The scalar propagator is proportional to Z/(p 2 + m 2 ). Therefore, the mass shift dictates the location of the propagator’s pole while the wavefunction renormalization dictates the intensity of the pole.

that we can use in the future. Note that,

ˆ

| φ in (x) |p =

=

=