Fermions in Yang-Mills gauge theories: invariance, covariance and topology

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

I present a study on the invariance and covariance properties of the Dirac operator describing fermions in Yang-Mills fields. This includes the study of anomalies of the gauge currents. We are particularly interested in the geometric and topological features in the problem. The complicated topological structures and properties present in these theories are made clear by elementary calculations in several simple models. We show explicitly how non-trivial phase and sign ambiguities arise to give the so-called anomalies. The Atiyah-Singer index theorem is seen to be a very powerful tool to calculate the topological invariants that characterize the anomalies. The index theorem also gives topological invariants describing the failure of covariance of the fermion propagator.