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Continuum calculus and Feynman’s path integrals

### Abstract

An operational calculus is set up with the specific aim of resolving the problem of the integral of functionals in a general complex Banach algebra. The functionals that occur frequently in physics are Feynman’s path integrals for quantum mechanics which usually appear in the form of an exponential of an integral. Through the establishment of two operations, the *r* differentiation and *p*integration, we succeed in constructing a formula, in closed form, for the integrals of Feynman type functionals. Applications to known problems (quantum harmonic oscillator, the electron–phonon system) corroborate conventional results. This formula is found to be at once consistent and more general than the method of projection into cylinder functionals of Frederichs type. It does not require an additive Gaussian measure, and it admits integration with finite limit functions. The methodology developed is general and applicable to other branches of mathematics. It is particularly suited to the study of infinitely divisible distributions in probability theory. We rederive, with facility, Lévy’s formulas for continuous sums, and Lévy–Khintchine and Kolmogorov formulas. We also find it applicable to continuum matrix algebra, where the formula for the determinant of matrices of continuous indices is given as a *p*integral. As to algebraic identities, we give a continuum version of the binary expansion, and retrieve Stirling’s formula of factorials by *p*integration. The *i* *d* *e*‐*c* *l* *e* *f* lies in the concept of infinitesimal ratio of a function in the same way that differential calculus deals with infinitesimal differences. Then the functional integral appears to be a natural product of the interaction between the conventional integration and the proposed *p*integration. It also heralds the possibility of a generalized measure theory for integrals where the basic operation between the measure and the integrand is not bilinear.

© 1976 American Institute of Physics

Published online 28 August 2008

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2008-08-28

2016-09-27

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