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Oct 3 – 7, 2022
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
America/Toronto timezone

Review Talk: A primer on the covariant phase space formalism

Oct 3, 2022, 10:00 AM
PI/1-100 - Theatre (Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics)

PI/1-100 - Theatre

Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics



Adrien Fiorucci (Technische Universität Wien)


This lecture aims at introducing the notion of asymptotic symmetries in gravity and the derivation of the related surface charges by means of covariant phase space techniques. First, after a short historical introduction, I will rigorously define what is meant by “asymptotic symmetry” within the so-called gauge-fixing approach. The problem of fixing consistent boundary conditions and the formulation of the variational principle will be briefly discussed. In the second part of the lecture, I will introduce the covariant phase space formalism, as conceived by Wald and coworkers thirty years ago, which adapts the Hamiltonian formulation of classical mechanics to Lagrangian covariant field theories. With the help of this fantastic tool, I will elaborate on the construction of canonical surface charges associated with asymptotic symmetries and address the crucial questions of their conservation and integrability on the phase space. In the third and last part, I will conclude with an analysis of the algebraic properties of the surface charges, describing in which sense they represent the asymptotic symmetry algebra in full generality, without assuming conservation or integrability. For pedagogical purposes, the theoretical concepts will be illustrated throughout in the crucial and well-known case of radiative asymptotically flat spacetimes in four dimensions, as described by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, and where many spectacular and unexpected features appear even in the simplest case of historical asymptotically Minkowskian boundary conditions. In particular, I will show that the surface charge algebra contains the physical information on the flux of energy and angular momentum at null infinity in the presence of gravitational radiation.

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