# How to sum over final, and average over initial color states?

+ 5 like - 0 dislike
1671 views

Consider the $s$-channel mediated top quark production process
$$d + \overline d \rightarrow t + \overline t$$

Using the Feynman rules for QCD, the amplitude contains a color factor $$[c^\dagger _{\overline d} ~t^a ~c_d][c^\dagger _{t} ~t^a ~c_{\overline t}]$$

where $t^a$ are the generators of the $SU(N)$ color group and summation over a is implicit. To evaluate the cross section $\sigma$, one has to sum over final colors and average over initial colors. One gets

$$\sigma \propto {1\over N^2} \sum_{initial} \sum_{final} [c^\dagger _{\overline d} ~t^a ~c_d][c^\dagger _{t} ~t^a ~c_{\overline t}][c^\dagger _{\overline d} ~t^b ~c_d]^*[c^\dagger _{t} ~t^b ~c_{\overline t}]^*$$

My question is, how does one proceed from here? The answer has a term proportional to ${N^2 -1 \over N^2}$, and I can only account for the $N^2$ in the denominator.

PS: My understanding is limited to what is discussed in Griffiths' book. I have no background in QFT/QED/QCD. Please mention sources if possible.

Edit: Many have suggested that I use $[c^\dagger _{\overline d} ~t^a ~c_d][c^\dagger _{t} ~t_a ~c_{\overline t}]$ (note Einstein's convention) but I have not seen this in Griffith' book. He has used superscripts for both indices. Also, I have correctly changed the color index to latin.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-04-14 15:59 (UCT), posted by SE-user negligible_singularity
retagged Apr 19, 2014
Are the $t^\mu$ defined somewhere in this book? As far as I know the generators of $SU(N)$ have no Lorentz indices.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-04-14 15:59 (UCT), posted by SE-user Photon
@Photon My bad! I should not have used greek indices for color index. I have corrected them to latin ones after the edit. $t^a$ are generators of SU(N) color group. In case of SU(3) you can relate then to Gell-Mann matrices as $t^a = {\lambda^a \over 2}$.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-04-14 15:59 (UCT), posted by SE-user negligible_singularity

+ 1 like - 0 dislike

Part of your confusion here probably comes from your notation. Usually we reserve the index $\mu$ for spacetime. The generators of $SU(N)$ are more commonly labelled with Latin indices $t^a$. See for example here.

We can split the amplitude into two parts, according to whether they concern color or kinematics. You are just interested in the color part. Each quark comes with a color "polarization", i.e. a normalized basis vector $c$ in the fundamental representation of $SU(N)$. The quark-gluon vertices just give color factors of $t^a$.

Now the cross section is given by the modulus squared of the amplitude so we have

$$\sigma \propto {1\over N^2} \sum_{initial} \sum_{final} [c^\dagger _{\overline d} ~t^a ~c_d][c^\dagger _{t} ~t^a ~c_{\overline t}][c^\dagger _{\overline d} ~t^b ~c_d]^*[c^\dagger _{t} ~t^b ~c_{\overline t}]^*$$

Now using that the color polarizations are normalized we can reinterpret the sum as a double trace term

$$\sigma \propto {1\over N^2}Tr(t^a t^b)Tr(t^a t^b)$$

Now we can use the color algebra relation

$$Tr(t^a t^b) = \frac{1}{2}\delta^{ab}$$

to conclude that

$$\sigma \propto \frac{(N^2 - 1)}{N^2}$$

As for a reference, you could do worse than read Part III of Peskin and Schroeder's book. It's quite a big step up from Griffiths though. But if you want to understand what's really going on then you'll need to do QFT at some stage!

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-04-14 15:59 (UCT), posted by SE-user Edward Hughes
answered Apr 14, 2014 by (130 points)
Can you elaborate on the part where you say: "using that the color polarizations are normalized we can reinterpret the sum as a double trace term"

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-04-14 15:59 (UCT), posted by SE-user negligible_singularity

 Please use answers only to (at least partly) answer questions. To comment, discuss, or ask for clarification, leave a comment instead. To mask links under text, please type your text, highlight it, and click the "link" button. You can then enter your link URL. Please consult the FAQ for as to how to format your post. This is the answer box; if you want to write a comment instead, please use the 'add comment' button. Live preview (may slow down editor)   Preview Your name to display (optional): Email me at this address if my answer is selected or commented on: Privacy: Your email address will only be used for sending these notifications. Anti-spam verification: If you are a human please identify the position of the character covered by the symbol $\varnothing$ in the following word:p$\hbar$ys$\varnothing$csOverflowThen drag the red bullet below over the corresponding character of our banner. When you drop it there, the bullet changes to green (on slow internet connections after a few seconds). To avoid this verification in future, please log in or register.