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## Path integrals on manifolds with boundary and their asymptotic expansions

### Pfadintegrale auf Mannigfaltigkeiten mit Rand und ihre asymptotischen Entwicklungen

• It is "scientific folklore" coming from physical heuristics that solutions to the heat equation on a Riemannian manifold can be represented by a path integral. However, the problem with such path integrals is that they are notoriously ill-defined. One way to make them rigorous (which is often applied in physics) is finite-dimensional approximation, or time-slicing approximation: Given a fine partition of the time interval into small subintervals, one restricts the integration domain to paths that are geodesic on each subinterval of the partition. These finite-dimensional integrals are well-defined, and the (infinite-dimensional) path integral then is defined as the limit of these (suitably normalized) integrals, as the mesh of the partition tends to zero. In this thesis, we show that indeed, solutions to the heat equation on a general compact Riemannian manifold with boundary are given by such time-slicing path integrals. Here we consider the heat equation for general Laplace type operators, acting on sections of a vector bundle. WeIt is "scientific folklore" coming from physical heuristics that solutions to the heat equation on a Riemannian manifold can be represented by a path integral. However, the problem with such path integrals is that they are notoriously ill-defined. One way to make them rigorous (which is often applied in physics) is finite-dimensional approximation, or time-slicing approximation: Given a fine partition of the time interval into small subintervals, one restricts the integration domain to paths that are geodesic on each subinterval of the partition. These finite-dimensional integrals are well-defined, and the (infinite-dimensional) path integral then is defined as the limit of these (suitably normalized) integrals, as the mesh of the partition tends to zero. In this thesis, we show that indeed, solutions to the heat equation on a general compact Riemannian manifold with boundary are given by such time-slicing path integrals. Here we consider the heat equation for general Laplace type operators, acting on sections of a vector bundle. We also obtain similar results for the heat kernel, although in this case, one has to restrict to metrics satisfying a certain smoothness condition at the boundary. One of the most important manipulations one would like to do with path integrals is taking their asymptotic expansions; in the case of the heat kernel, this is the short time asymptotic expansion. In order to use time-slicing approximation here, one needs the approximation to be uniform in the time parameter. We show that this is possible by giving strong error estimates. Finally, we apply these results to obtain short time asymptotic expansions of the heat kernel also in degenerate cases (i.e. at the cut locus). Furthermore, our results allow to relate the asymptotic expansion of the heat kernel to a formal asymptotic expansion of the infinite-dimensional path integral, which gives relations between geometric quantities on the manifold and on the loop space. In particular, we show that the lowest order term in the asymptotic expansion of the heat kernel is essentially given by the Fredholm determinant of the Hessian of the energy functional. We also investigate how this relates to the zeta-regularized determinant of the Jacobi operator along minimizing geodesics.