Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In the theory of constrained Hamiltonian systems, one differentiates between primary and secondary constraints, where the former are constraints derived directly from the Hamiltonian in question and the latter are only realized 'on-shell', i.e. once the equations of motion are satisfied.

Further one can differentiate between first-class and second-class constraints, where first-class constraints have a vanishing Poisson bracket with all other constraints, and second-class constraints don't.

It can now be shown, that first-class primary constraints, generate gauge transformation.

The Dirac conjecture states that one could remove the requirement to have a first-class primary constraint and therefore that all first-class constraints (no matter if primary or secondary) generate gauge transformations.

The conjecture is shown to not hold in some very specific examples but is used in the literature nontheless.

My question is whether at least the inverse is true: can every gauge theory be formulated as a Hamiltonian problem with a first-class constraint?

The case of formulating a gauge theory as a hamiltonian with primary first-class constraint probably just means adding gauge fixing terms to the theory. In that case the question might be rather, if a closed-form gauge fixing term can be found for any gauge group. And if not, can gauge theories for which this fails be formulated as first-class secondary constraints?

share|improve this question

Your Answer


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

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.