The Uncanny Precision of the Spectral Action

Chamseddine, Ali H.; Connes, Alain
February 2010
Communications in Mathematical Physics;Feb2010, Vol. 293 Issue 3, p867
Academic Journal
Noncommutative geometry has been slowly emerging as a new paradigm of geometry which starts from quantum mechanics. One of its key features is that the new geometry is spectral in agreement with the physical way of measuring distances. In this paper we present a detailed introduction with an overview on the study of the quantum nature of space-time using the tools of noncommutative geometry. In particular we examine the suitability of using the spectral action as an action functional for the theory. To demonstrate how the spectral action encodes the dynamics of gravity we examine the accuracy of the approximation of the spectral action by its asymptotic expansion in the case of the round sphere S3. We find that the two terms corresponding to the cosmological constant and the scalar curvature term already give the full result with remarkable accuracy. This is then applied to the physically relevant case of S3 × S1, where we show that the spectral action in this case is also given, for any test function, by the sum of two terms up to an astronomically small correction, and in particular all higher order terms a2 n vanish. This result is confirmed by evaluating the spectral action using the heat kernel expansion where we check that the higher order terms a4 and a6 both vanish due to remarkable cancelations. We also show that the Higgs potential appears as an exact perturbation when the test function used is a smooth cutoff function.


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