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Crossed product algebras and generalized entropy for subregions

Shadi Ali Ahmad, Ro Jefferson

SciPost Phys. Core 7, 020 (2024) · published 10 April 2024


An early result of algebraic quantum field theory is that the algebra of any subregion in a QFT is a von Neumann factor of type III$_{1}$, in which entropy cannot be well-defined because such algebras do not admit a trace or density states. However, associated to the algebra is a modular group of automorphisms characterizing the local dynamics of degrees of freedom in the region, and the crossed product of the algebra with its modular group yields a type II$_∞$ factor, in which traces and hence von Neumann entropy can be well-defined. In this work, we generalize recent constructions of the crossed product algebra for the TFD to, in principle, arbitrary spacetime regions in arbitrary QFTs, formally paving the way to the study of entanglement entropy without UV divergences. In contrast to previous works, we emphasize that this construction is independent of gravity. In this sense, the crossed product construction represents a refinement of Haag's assignment of nets of observable algebras to spacetime regions by providing a natural construction of a type II factor. We present several concrete examples: a QFT in Rindler space, a CFT in an open ball of Minkowski space, and arbitrary boundary subregions in AdS/CFT. In the holographic setting, we provide a novel argument for why the bulk dual must be the entanglement wedge, and discuss the distinction arising from boundary modular flow between causal and entanglement wedges for excited states and disjoint regions.

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