# Normal order

## Type of operator ordering in quantum field theory / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In quantum field theory a product of quantum fields, or equivalently their creation and annihilation operators, is usually said to be **normal ordered** (also called **Wick order**) when all creation operators are to the left of all annihilation operators in the product. The process of putting a product into normal order is called **normal ordering** (also called **Wick ordering**). The terms **antinormal order** and **antinormal ordering** are analogously defined, where the annihilation operators are placed to the left of the creation operators.

Normal ordering of a product of quantum fields or creation and annihilation operators can also be defined in many other ways. Which definition is most appropriate depends on the expectation values needed for a given calculation. Most of this article uses the most common definition of normal ordering as given above, which is appropriate when taking expectation values using the vacuum state of the creation and annihilation operators.

The process of normal ordering is particularly important for a quantum mechanical Hamiltonian. When quantizing a classical Hamiltonian there is some freedom when choosing the operator order, and these choices lead to differences in the ground state energy. That's why the process can also be used to eliminate the infinite vacuum energy of a quantum field.