Quadratic algebra contractions and second-order superintegrable systems

Ernest G. Kalnins, W. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Quadratic algebras are generalizations of Lie algebras; they include the symmetry algebras of second-order superintegrable systems in two dimensions as special cases. The superintegrable systems are exactly solvable physical systems in classical and quantum mechanics. For constant curvature spaces, we show that the free quadratic algebras generated by the first-A nd second-order elements in the enveloping algebras of their Euclidean and orthogonal symmetry algebras correspond one-to-one with the possible superintegrable systems with potential defined on these spaces. We describe a contraction theory for quadratic algebras and show that for constant curvature superintegrable systems, ordinary Lie algebra contractions induce contractions of the quadratic algebras of the superintegrable systems that correspond to geometrical pointwise limits of the physical systems. One consequence is that by contracting function space realizations of representations of the generic superintegrable quantum system on the 2-sphere (which give the structure equations for Racah/Wilson polynomials) to the other superintegrable systems one obtains the full Askey scheme of orthogonal hypergeometric polynomials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-612
Number of pages30
JournalAnalysis and Applications
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Eyal Subag made important contributions to this paper through critical discussions. This work was partially supported by a grant from the Simons Foundation (# 208754 to W. Miller, Jr.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 World Scientific Publishing Company.


  • Askey scheme
  • Contractions
  • quadratic algebras
  • superintegrable systems


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