Prague, 28 June 2017
Léon Rosenfeld’s general theory of constrained Hamiltonian dynamics
1 Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstrasse 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany
2 Austin College, 900 North Grand Ave, Sherman, 75090 Texas, USA
3 Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Physik, Berlin, Germany
Received: 16 June 2016
Accepted: 21 November 2016
Published online: 11 January 2017
This commentary reflects on the 1930 general theory of Léon Rosenfeld dealing with phase-space constraints. We start with a short biography of Rosenfeld and his motivation for this article in the context of ideas pursued by W. Pauli, F. Klein, E. Noether. We then comment on Rosenfeld’s General Theory dealing with symmetries and constraints, symmetry generators, conservation laws and the construction of a Hamiltonian in the case of phase-space constraints. It is remarkable that he was able to derive expressions for all phase space symmetry generators without making explicit reference to the generator of time evolution. In his Applications, Rosenfeld treated the general relativistic example of Einstein-Maxwell-Dirac theory. We show, that although Rosenfeld refrained from fully applying his general findings to this example, he could have obtained the Hamiltonian. Many of Rosenfeld’s discoveries were re-developed or re-discovered by others two decades later, yet as we show there remain additional firsts that are still not recognized in the community.
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