Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Asymptotic Symmetries: from Concepts to Observations

Project description

Upending our understanding of gauge symmetries

Gauge symmetries are important for gravity and quantum field theory, including the relativistic quantum mechanics of electrons (quantum electrodynamics). Although gauge symmetries are redundancies in the description of physics, some of them do not vanish at infinity. These are then global symmetries, on a par with rotations or translations; they are known as asymptotic symmetries. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the SymCO project will study memory effects or Berry phases associated with asymptotic symmetries, which have so far received poor attention. Researchers will also study field-dependent central charges occurring in asymptotic symmetry algebras of various gauge systems. Project results could overturn our understanding of gauge symmetries and their infrared effects.


At its core, Nature is described by gauge systems such as electrodynamics and gravitation. Such theories are written in terms of redundant quantum fields, but it was recently realized that some of these redundancies are, in fact, genuine symmetries. The corresponding transformations are known as asymptotic symmetries, a prominent example of which is the intriguing Bondi-Metzner-Sachs (BMS) group relevant to gravitational radiation. Accordingly, the purpose of this project is to study asymptotic symmetries along three axes. Firstly, look for their experimental signatures, such as memory effects or Berry phases. The latter are uncharted territory, so many of their aspects remain to be clarified; besides, their scope goes well beyond high-energy physics, as analogous phases exist in shallow water dynamics. Secondly, address the conceptual issue of field-dependent central charges occurring in asymptotic symmetry algebras of various gauge systems; this feature is radically new for symmetries in Nature, and has the potential to overturn many of our preconceptions about symmetries in general. Thirdly, relate representations of asymptotic symmetry algebras to Faddeev-Kulish dressing; this reformulation would open the door to countless applications and to a conceptual leap in our understanding of both particles physics and quantum gravity.


Net EU contribution
€ 184 707,84
91128 Palaiseau Cedex

See on map

Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Essonne
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 184 707,84