Contractions of 2D 2nd order quantum superintegrable systems and the askey scheme for hypergeometric orthogonal polynomials

Ernest G. Kalnins, Willard Miller, Sarah Post

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

We show explicitly that all 2nd order superintegrable systems in 2 dimensions are limiting cases of a single system: the generic 3-parameter potential on the 2-sphere, S9 in our listing. We extend the Wigner-Inonü method of Lie algebra contractions to contractions of quadratic algebras and show that all of the quadratic symmetry algebras of these systems are contractions of that of S9. Amazingly, all of the relevant contractions of these superintegrable systems on flat space and the sphere are uniquely induced by the well known Lie algebra contractions of e(2) and so(3). 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, and using Wigner's idea of "saving" a representation, we obtain the full Askey scheme of hypergeometric orthogonal polynomials. This relationship directly ties the polynomials and their structure equations to physical phenomena. It is more general because it applies to all special functions that arise from these systems via separation of variables, not just those of hypergeometric type, and it extends to higher dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number057
JournalSymmetry, Integrability and Geometry: Methods and Applications (SIGMA)
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Askey scheme
  • Hypergeometric orthogonal polynomials
  • Quadratic algebras

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