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Computation of some functional determinants through

Riemanns -function
Sergei Winitzki
May 31, 2006
1 Properties of Riemanns -function
Riemanns zeta function is dened by
(s) =

n=1
1
n
s
, (1)
which converges for Re s > 1, and analytically continued to all s. The resulting function is well-
dened in the entire complex plane and has a simple pole at s = 1 (with residue 1). Generally, it
is difcult to analyze this function and to establish its properties. It is known that
(0) =
1
2
,

(0) =
1
2
ln (2) , (s) =
1
s 1
+ + O(s 1), (2)
where is Eulers constant. Other known values are
(2m) =
(1)
m+1
(2)
2m
2 (2m)!
B
2m
, (3)
(2m + 1) =
B
2m
2m
, (2m) = 0. (4)
An integral representation valid for all complex s is Riemanns formula,
(s/2)

s/2
(s) =
1
s (s 1)
+
_

1
dt
t
_
t
1s
2
+ t
s
2
_
_

n=1
e
n
2
t
_
. (5)
Some useful identities are

n=1
1
(2n 1)
s
=
_
1 2
s
_
(s), (6)

n=1
(1)
n1
n
s
=
_
1 2
1s
_
(s), (7)
(1 s) =
2(s)
(2)
s
cos
s
2
(s). (8)
See, for example, the book [1], chapter 1, for a derivation of these properties.
2 Functional determinants
In nite dimensions, the determinant of an operator is equal to the product of its eigenvalues
(with multiplicities). However, this denition usually does not work in the innite-dimensional
1
situation. For example, the operator

A
2
x
on the interval x [0, 1] with zero boundary
conditions (i.e. in the subspace of twice differentiable functions f(x) such that f(0) = f(1) = 0)
has eigenvalues

n
= (n)
2
, n = 1, 2, ... (9)
each with multiplicity 2. Clearly, the product of these eigenvalues is undened (diverges). How-
ever, we would still like to compute the determinant of the operator

A.
A standard trick is used to solve this problem: We rst dene the generalized zeta function

A
(s) by the series

A
(s) =

n=1
1

s
n
. (10)
The series will converge if s is sufciently large. Then we obtain the analytic continuation of
A
(s)
to all (complex) s. The resulting function will be usually analytic at s = 0. Then the determinant
of

A is found from the following recipe,
ln det

A =
d
ds

s=0

A
(s). (11)
Note that this recipe would give the correct expression, ln det

A =
1

3
..., if the product were
well-dened. One considers Eq. (11) as a denition of a regularized or renormalized determi-
nant of an operator

A, obtained through the analytic continuation of an auxiliary function
A
(s).
The justication for this denition of det

A is not completely understood, but it appears that
the recipe works in the sense that it gives physically sensible answers that could be veried
by other calculations. Here we shall concentrate on the computational difculty inherent in this
approach: namely, it is not easy to obtain the analytic continuation of
A
(s) at s = 0. In this
note, we show some known examples where the answer can be obtained in closed form. In
these examples, we shall reduce

A
(0) to an expression involving specic values of Riemanns
function.
3 First examples
Consider again the operator

A
2
x
on the interval x [0, 1] with zero boundary conditions. It
is clear that

A
(s) =

n=1
1
(n)
2s
=
1

2s
(2s). (12)
Therefore
ln det

A =
d
ds

s=0
(2s)

2s
= 2(0) ln 2

(0) = ln + ln (2) = ln 2. (13)


A more complicated example is the operator

B

A + a
2
=
2
x
+ a
2
, (14)
again considered on the interval x [0, 1] with zero boundary conditions. The eigenvalues are

n
= a
2
+
2
n
2
, n = 1, 2, 3, ..., (15)
and the zeta function is

B
(s) =

n=1
1
(a
2
+
2
n
2
)
s
. (16)
This function can be reduced to Riemanns zeta funtion (s) using the following trick (motivated
by the heat kernel formalism; see [2], end of section 2).
2
Recall the denition of Eulers Gamma function,
(s) =
_

0
t
s1
e
t
dt, (17)
and change variable t to obtain
1

s
=
1
(s)
_

0

s1
e

d. (18)
Therefore we obtain an alternative representation of the function
B
(s):

B
(s) =
1
(s)

n=1
_

0
d
s1
e
n
. (19)
Using this representation, we nd

B
(s) =
1
(s)

n=1
_

0
d
s1
e
(
2
n
2
+a
2
)
. (20)
Let us compare this with the analogous representation we would have found for
A
(s):

A
(s) =
1
(s)

n=1
_

0
d
s1
e

2
n
2

. (21)
The difference is the extra term with a
2
in the exponential. Let us expand that term in a series,

B
(s) =
1
(s)

n=1
_

0
d
s1
_

m=0
a
2m

m
m!
_
e

2
n
2

, (22)
and interchange the order of summation and integration:

B
(s) =
1
(s)

m=0

n=1
a
2m
m!
_

0
d
m+s1
e

2
n
2

=
1
(s)

m=0

n=1
(1)
m
a
2m
m!
(m + s)
(n)
2m+2s
=
1
(s)

m=0
(1)
m
a
2m
m!
(m + s)

2m+2s
(2m + 2s)
=
1

2s
(2s) +
1
(s)

m=1
(1)
m
a
2m
m!
(m + s)

2m+2s
(2m + 2s).
In this way, we have reduced
B
(s) to an innite power series in a with coefcients involving
(s). In principle, this allows us to compute
B
(s) numerically in an efcient way, since the
function (s) is essentially known and the series converges (for small enough a).
However, we are interested only in the value

B
(0). To compute that, we recall that s(s) =
(s + 1) and hence
1
(s)
=
s
(s + 1)

1
(s)

s=0
= 0,
d
ds

s=0
1
(s)
=
1
(1)
= 1. (23)
Then, for bounded f(s) we have
d
ds

s=0
1
(s)
f(s) = f(0), (24)
3
and so we nd

B
(0) = ln2 +

m=1
(1)
m
a
2m
(2m)
m
2m
. (25)
Using Eq. (3), we nd
ln det

B =

B
(0) = ln 2 +

m=1
(2a)
2m
B
2m
2m(2m)!
. (26)
There is a known expansion involving the Bernoulli numbers,
1
tanh x
=
1
x
+ 2

m=1
(2x)
2m1
(2m)!
B
2m
, (27)
_
dx
tanh x
= ln sinh x = ln x +

m=1
(2x)
2m
2m(2m)!
B
2m
. (28)
Thus
ln det

B =

B
(0) = ln 2 +

m=1
(2a)
2m
B
2m
2m(2m)!
= ln(e
2a
e
2a
). (29)
4 Further generalizations
The success of the calculation in the previous section hinges on the possibility to expand
B
(s) as
a series involving (s). Hence, the method can be generalized to operators

Z with spectra of the
form

n
= a
0
+ a
1
n + a
2
n
2
+ ... + a
r
n
r
, (30)
or even

n
= a
1
n
1
+ a
2
n
2
+ ... + a
r
n
r
, (31)
where a
j
and
j
are arbitrary real coefcients, and a nite number r of terms is assumed.
For instance, consider an operator B with a spectrum
n
= a + bn

. Following the previous


calculations, we nd

A
(s) =
1
(s)

n=1
_

0
t
s1
e
atbn

t
dt
=
1
(s)

n=1

m=0
_

0
t
m+s1
(a)
m
m!
e
bn

t
dt
=
1
(s)

n=1

m=0
(m + s)
b
m+s
n
(m+s)
(a)
m
m!
=

m=0
(m + s)b
s
(s)(m + 1)
_

a
b
_
m
(m + s) . (32)
Note that the resulting series diverges if < 0 but converges if > 0 and |a/b| < 1. The
derivative of the zeta function is found by splitting of the term m = 0, as before:

A
(s) = b
s
(s) +
b
s
(s)

m=1
(m + s)
(m + 1)
_

a
b
_
m
(m + s) , (33)

A
(0) =
1
2
ln b +

m=1
1
m
_

a
b
_
m
(m) . (34)
Again, this series converges if |a/b| < 1 and > 0.
4
In the case < 0, a different expansion can be used. As an example, consider the case when
an operator A has the spectrum

n
= a + bn

, > 0. (35)
Following the previous calculations, we nd

A
(s) =
1
(s)

n=1
_

0
t
s1
e
atbn

t
dt. (36)
Let us now expand the factor exp(bn

t) rather than the factor exp(at):

A
(s) =
1
(s)

n=1

m=0
_

0
t
m+s1
e
at
(b)
m
m!n
m
dt
=
a
s
(s)

m=0
(m + s)
m!
_

b
a
_
m
(m)
=
1
2
a
s
+
a
s
(s)

m=1
(m + s)
m!
_

b
a
_
m
(m).
This series converges if |b/a| < 1 and > 0. The derivative of the zeta function is

A
(0) =
1
2
ln a +

m=1
1
m
_

b
a
_
m
(m). (37)
Finally, let us consider the curious case of the spectrum of the Hamiltonian of the electron in
a Coulomb potential:

n
= n
2
, > 0, (38)
where the eigenvalue
n
has multiplicity 2n
2
(including the spin degeneracy). We nd

H
(s) =

n=1
2n
2
(n
2
)
s
= 2 ()
s

n=1
n
2s+2
= 2 ()
s
(2s 2), (39)

H
(0) = 2(2) ln() 4

(2). (40)
The value

(2) 0.03 is a transcendental number that can be evaluated numerically, while


(2) = 0. The determinant is then
det H = exp (

H
(0)) = exp (4

(2)) 1.13. (41)


The curious result is that the value of the determinant is independent of the Rydberg constant .
More generally, if an operator H has eigenvalues of the form
n
= En

, n = 1, 2, ..., with
polynomial degeneracies g
n
= c
1
n
2
+ ... + c
k
n
2k
, containing only even powers of n, then the
determinant of H is independent of the scale parameter E. (Thanks are due to Matthew Parry
for communicating this statement to the author.)
References
[1] H. Bateman and A. Erdlyi, Higher transcendental functions, vol.1, McGraw-Hill, New York,
1953.
[2] N. Straumann, Cosmological phase transitions (Zuoz lecture notes, 2004), preprint astro-
ph/0409042.
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