The theory of contractions of 2D 2nd order quantum superintegrable systems and its relation to the Askey scheme for hypergeometric orthogonal polynomials

Research paper by Willard Miller

Indexed on: 08 Oct '13Published on: 08 Oct '13Published in: Mathematical Physics


We describe a contraction theory for 2nd order superintegrable systems, showing that all such systems in 2 dimensions are limiting cases of a single system: the generic 3-parameter potential on the 2-sphere, S9 in our listing. Analogously, all of the quadratic symmetry algebras of these systems can be obtained by a sequence of contractions starting from S9. By contracting function space realizations of irreducible representations of the S9 algebra (which give the structure equations for Racah/Wilson polynomials) to the other superintegrable systems one obtains the full Askey scheme of orthogonal hypergeometric polynomials.This relates the scheme directly to explicitly solvable quantum mechanical systems. Amazingly, all of these contractions of superintegrable systems with potential are uniquely induced by Wigner Lie algebra contractions of so(3,C) and e(2,C). The present paper concentrates on describing this intimate link between Lie algebra and superintegrable system contractions, with the detailed calculations presented elsewhere. Joint work with E. Kalnins, S. Post, E. Subag and R. Heinonen