Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is a good, simple argument as to why Chern-Simons theory' is renormalisable? Any good books/references dealing with this effectively? Why does the $\beta$-function vanish? Thanks!

share|cite|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

From nLab:renormalization: Of theories in BV-CS form:

In (Costello 07) a comparatively simple renormalization procedure is given that applies to theories that are given by action functionals which can be given in the form

$$ S(\phi) = \langle \phi , Q \phi \rangle + I(\phi) $$


  • the fields ϕ are sections of a graded field bundle E on which Q is a differential, ⟨−,−⟩ a compatible antibracket pairing such that (E,Q,⟨⟩) is a free field theory (as discussed there) in BV-BRST formalism;

  • I is an interaction that is at least cubic.

These are action functionals that are well adapted to BV-BRST formalism and for which there is a quantization to a factorization algebra of observables.

Most of the fundamental theories in physics are of this form, notably Yang-Mills theory. In particular also all theories of infinity-Chern-Simons theory-type coming from binary invariant polynomials are perturbatively of this form, notably ordinary Chern-Simons theory.

For a discussion of just the simple special case of 3d Chern-Simons theory see (Costello 11, chapter 5.4 and 5.14).


  1. The setup

  2. Operator (heat) kernels and propagators

  3. The renormalization group operator

  4. The path integral

  5. Renormalized action

  6. Renormalization

share|cite|improve this answer
Costello's book is certainly not a good reading for a beginner, as well as referring to general BV-BRST technique. – John Aug 31 '13 at 21:30
John, maybe renormalization as such is not for beginners? I think Costello's account is about the best that there is. A beginner might take it as incentive to study and learn more and eventually cease to be a beginner and become an expert. – Urs Schreiber Sep 1 '13 at 17:22
It is of course a matter of taste, Collins' book is the best but maybe out-of-date, there is no Chern-Simons there. Costello aims at mathematical rigour, which adds a few useful information but complicates the book a lot. – John Sep 1 '13 at 17:43
Not sure what you mean. (Out of date?? And of course there is Chern-Simons in the book, see the explicit links above.) But let's leave it at that. Maybe somebody else has what you are after. – Urs Schreiber Sep 1 '13 at 18:08
Do not understand, in the Collins "Renormalization" there is no CS there, but the book itself is great – John Sep 1 '13 at 18:49

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.