Lessons from the Mathematics of Two-Dimensional Euclidean Quantum Gravity


The search for a mathematical foundation for the path integral of Euclidean quantum gravity calls for the construction of random geometry on the spacetime manifold. Following developments in physics on the two-dimensional theory, random geometry on the 2-sphere has in recent years received much attention in the mathematical literature, which has led to a fully rigorous implementation of the path integral formulation of two-dimensional Euclidean quantum gravity. In this chapter we review several important mathematical developments that may serve as guiding principles for approaching Euclidean quantum gravity in dimensions higher than two. Our starting point is the discrete geometry encoded by random planar maps, which realizes a lattice discretization of the path integral. We recap the enumeration of planar maps via their generating functions and show how bijections with trees explain the surprising simplicity of some of these. Then we explain how to handle infinite planar maps and to analyze their exploration via the peeling process. The aforementioned trees provide the basis for the construction of the universal continuum limit of the random discrete geometries, known as the Brownian sphere, which represents the random geometry underlying two-dimensional Euclidean quantum gravity in the absence of matter.