The time-dependent quantum harmonic oscillator revisited: Applications to quantum field theory Articles uri icon

publication date

  • March 2009

start page

  • 1360

end page

  • 1385


  • 6


  • 324

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-4916

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-035X


  • In this article, we formulate the study of the unitary time evolution of systems consisting of an infinite number of uncoupled time-dependent harmonic oscillators in mathematically rigorous terms. We base this analysis on the theory of a single one-dimensional time-dependent oscillator, for which we first summarize some basic results concerning the unitary implementability of the dynamics. This is done by employing techniques different from those used so far to derive the Feynman propagator. In particular, we calculate the transition amplitudes for the usual harmonic oscillator eigenstates and define suitable semiclassical states for some physically relevant models. We then explore the possible extension of this study to infinite dimensional dynamical systems. Specifically, we construct Schrödinger functional representations in terms of appropriate probability spaces, analyze the unitarity of the time evolution, and probe the existence of semiclassical states for a wide range of physical systems, particularly, the well-known Minkowskian free scalar fields and Gowdy cosmological models.


  • Mathematics
  • Physics


  • time dependent harmonic oscillator; quantum field theory; schrödinger representation