A First Class Constraint Generates Not a Gauge Transformation, But a Bad Physical Change: The Case of Electromagnetism

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Pitts, J. Brian
preprint description
In Dirac-Bergmann constrained dynamics, a first-class constraint typically does not _alone_ generate a gauge transformation. By direct calculation it is found that each first-class constraint in Maxwell's theory generates a change in the electric field E by an arbitrary gradient, spoiling Gauss's law. The secondary first-class constraint p^i,_i=0 still holds, but being a function of derivatives of momenta, it is not directly about E (a function of derivatives of A_mu). Only a special combination of the two first-class constraints, the Anderson-Bergmann (1951)-Castellani gauge generator G, leaves E unchanged. This problem is avoided if one uses a first-class constraint as the generator of a _canonical transformation_; but that partly strips the canonical coordinates of physical meaning as electromagnetic potentials and makes the electric field depend on the smearing function, bad behavior illustrating the wisdom of the Anderson-Bergmann (1951) Lagrangian orientation of interesting canonical transformations. The need to keep gauge-invariant the relation dot{q}- dH/dp= -E_i -p^i=0 supports using the primary Hamiltonian rather than the extended Hamiltonian. The results extend the Lagrangian-oriented reforms of Castellani, Sugano, Pons, Salisbury, Shepley, _etc._ by showing the inequivalence of the extended Hamiltonian to the primary Hamiltonian (and hence the Lagrangian) even for _observables_, properly construed in the sense implying empirical equivalence. Dirac and others have noticed the arbitrary velocities multiplying the primary constraints outside the canonical Hamiltonian while apparently overlooking the corresponding arbitrary coordinates multiplying the secondary constraints _inside_ the canonical Hamiltonian, and so wrongly ascribed the gauge quality to the primaries alone, not the primary-secondary team G. Hence the Dirac conjecture about secondary first-class constraints rests upon a false presupposition. The usual concept of Dirac observables should also be modified to employ the gauge generator G, not the first-class constraints separately, so that the Hamiltonian observables become equivalent to the Lagrangian ones such as the electromagnetic field F.