Van der Waerden notation

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In theoretical physics, van der Waerden notation[1][2] refers to the usage of two-component spinors (Weyl spinors) in four spacetime dimensions. This is standard in twistor theory and supersymmetry. It is named after Bartel Leendert van der Waerden.

Dotted indices[edit]

Undotted indices (chiral indices)

Spinors with lower undotted indices have a left-handed chiralty, and are called chiral indices.

Dotted indices (anti-chiral indices)

Spinors with raised dotted indices, plus an overbar on the symbol (not index), are right-handed, and called anti-chiral indices.

Without the indices, i.e. "index free notation", an overbar is retained on right-handed spinor, since ambiguity arises between chiralty when no index is indicated.

Hatted indices[edit]

Indices which have hats are called Dirac indices, and are the set of dotted and undotted, or chiral and anti-chiral, indices. For example, if

then a spinor in the chiral basis is represented as


In this notation the Dirac adjoint (also called the Dirac conjugate) is

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Van der Waerden B.L. (1929). "Spinoranalyse". Nachr. Ges. Wiss. Göttingen Math.-Phys. 1929: 100–109. 
  2. ^ Veblen O. (1933). "Geometry of two-component Spinors". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 19: 462–474. Bibcode:1933PNAS...19..462V. doi:10.1073/pnas.19.4.462.