Gravity: A gauge theory perspective

James M. Nester, Chiang Mei Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The evolution of a generally covariant theory is under-determined. One hundred years ago such dynamics had never before been considered; its ramifications were perplexing, its future important role for all the fundamental interactions under the name gauge principle could not be foreseen. We recount some history regarding Einstein, Hilbert, Klein and Noether and the novel features of gravitational energy that led to Noether's two theorems. Under-determined evolution is best revealed in the Hamiltonian formulation. We developed a covariant Hamiltonian formulation. The Hamiltonian boundary term gives covariant expressions for the quasi-local energy, momentum and angular momentum. Gravity can be considered as a gauge theory of the local Poincaré group. The dynamical potentials of the Poincaré gauge theory of gravity are the frame and the connection. The spacetime geometry has in general both curvature and torsion. Torsion naturally couples to spin; it could have a significant magnitude and yet not be noticed, except on a cosmological scale where it could have significant effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1645002
JournalInternational Journal of Modern Physics D
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Hamiltonian
  • Poincaré gauge theory
  • quasi-local energy


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