Abstract:
We quantise the Euclidean torus universe via a combinatorial quantisation formalism based on its formulation as a Chern-Simons gauge theory and on the representation theory of the Drinfel'd double DSU(2). The resulting quantum algebra of observables is given by two commuting copies of the Heisenberg algebra, and the associated Hilbert space can be identified with the space of square integrable functions on the torus. We show that this Hilbert space carries a unitary representation of the modular group and discuss the role of modular invariance in the theory. We derive the classical limit of the theory and relate the quantum observables to the geometry of the torus universe.

Abstract:
It is well known that in four or more dimensions, there exist exotic manifolds; manifolds that are homeomorphic but not diffeomorphic to each other. More precisely, exotic manifolds are the same topological manifold but have inequivalent differentiable structures. This situation is in contrast to the uniqueness of the differentiable structure on topological manifolds in one, two and three dimensions. As exotic manifolds are not diffeomorphic, one can argue that quantum amplitudes for gravity formulated as functional integrals should include a sum over not only physically distinct geometries and topologies but also inequivalent differentiable structures. But can the inclusion of exotic manifolds in such sums make a significant contribution to these quantum amplitudes? This paper will demonstrate that it will. Simply connected exotic Einstein manifolds with positive curvature exist in seven dimensions. Their metrics are found numerically; they are shown to have volumes of the same order of magnitude. Their contribution to the semiclassical evaluation of the partition function for Euclidean quantum gravity in seven dimensions is evaluated and found to be nontrivial. Consequently, inequivalent differentiable structures should be included in the formulation of sums over histories for quantum gravity.

Abstract:
Euclidean dilaton gravity in two dimensions is studied exploiting its representation as a complexified first order gravity model. All local classical solutions are obtained. A global discussion reveals that for a given model only a restricted class of topologies is consistent with the metric and the dilaton. A particular case of string motivated Liouville gravity is studied in detail. Path integral quantisation in generic Euclidean dilaton gravity is performed non-perturbatively by analogy to the Minkowskian case.

Abstract:
In this paper we calculate the effect of the inclusion of exotic smooth structures on typical observables in Euclidean quantum gravity. We do this in the semiclassical regime for several gravitational free-field actions and find that the results are similar, independent of the particular action that is chosen. These are the first results of their kind in dimension four, which we extend to include one-loop contributions as well. We find these topological features can have physically significant results without the need for additional exotic physics.

Abstract:
We relate three-dimensional loop quantum gravity to the combinatorial quantisation formalism based on the Chern-Simons formulation for three-dimensional Lorentzian and Euclidean gravity with vanishing cosmological constant. We compare the construction of the kinematical Hilbert space and the implementation of the constraints. This leads to an explicit and very interesting relation between the associated operators in the two approaches and sheds light on their physical interpretation. We demonstrate that the quantum group symmetries arising in the combinatorial formalism, the quantum double of the three-dimensional Lorentz and rotation group, are also present in the loop formalism. We derive explicit expressions for the action of these quantum groups on the space of cylindrical functions associated with graphs. This establishes a direct link between the two quantisation approaches and clarifies the role of quantum group symmetries in three-dimensional gravity.

Abstract:
No theory of four-dimensional quantum gravity exists as yet. In this situation the two-dimensional theory, which can be analyzed by conventional field-theoretical methods, can serve as a toy model for studying some aspects of quantum gravity. It represents one of the rare settings in a quantum-gravitational context where one can calculate quantities truly independent of any background geometry. We review recent progress in our understanding of 2d quantum gravity, and in particular the relation between the Euclidean and Lorentzian sectors of the quantum theory. We show that conventional 2d Euclidean quantum gravity can be obtained from Lorentzian quantum gravity by an analytic continuation only if we allow for spatial topology changes in the latter. Once this is done, one obtains a theory of quantum gravity where space-time is fractal: the intrinsic Hausdorff dimension of usual 2d Euclidean quantum gravity is four, and not two. However, certain aspects of quantum space-time remain two-dimensional, exemplified by the fact that its so-called spectral dimension is equal to two.

Abstract:
We study the deformation (Moyal) quantisation of gravity in both the ADM and the Ashtekar approach. It is shown, that both can be treated, but lead to anomalies. The anomaly in the case of Ashtekar variables, however, is merely a central extension of the constraint algebra, which can be ``lifted''. Finally we write down the equations defining physical states and comment on their physical content. This is done by defining a loop representation. We find a solution in terms of a Chern-Simons state, whose Wigner function then becomes related to BF-theory. This state exist even in the absence of a cosmological constant but only if certain extra conditions are imposed. Another solution is found where the Wigner function is a Gaussian in the momenta. Some comments on ``quantum gravity'' in lower dimensions are also made.

Abstract:
We define a theory of Galilean gravity in 2+1 dimensions with cosmological constant as a Chern-Simons gauge theory of the doubly-extended Newton-Hooke group, extending our previous study of classical and quantum gravity in 2+1 dimensions in the Galilean limit. We exhibit an r-matrix which is compatible with our Chern-Simons action (in a sense to be defined) and show that the associated bi-algebra structure of the Newton-Hooke Lie algebra is that of the classical double of the extended Heisenberg algebra. We deduce that, in the quantisation of the theory according to the combinatorial quantisation programme, much of the quantum theory is determined by the quantum double of the extended q-deformed Heisenberg algebra.

Abstract:
One can try to define the theory of quantum gravity as the sum over geometries. In two dimensions the sum over {\it Euclidean} geometries can be performed constructively by the method of {\it dynamical triangulations}. One can define a {\it proper-time} propagator. This propagator can be used to calculate generalized Hartle-Hawking amplitudes and it can be used to understand the the fractal structure of {\it quantum geometry}. In higher dimensions the philosophy of defining the quantum theory, starting from a sum over Euclidean geometries, regularized by a reparametrization invariant cut off which is taken to zero, seems not to lead to an interesting continuum theory. The reason for this is the dominance of singular Euclidean geometries. Lorentzian geometries with a global causal structure are less singular. Using the framework of dynamical triangulations it is possible to give a constructive definition of the sum over such geometries, In two dimensions the theory can be solved analytically. It differs from two-dimensional Euclidean quantum gravity, and the relation between the two theories can be understood. In three dimensions the theory avoids the pathologies of three-dimensional Euclidean quantum gravity. General properties of the four-dimensional discretized theory have been established, but a detailed study of the continuum limit in the spirit of the renormalization group and {\it asymptotic safety} is till awaiting.

Abstract:
We study quantisation of noncommutative gravity theories in two dimensions (with noncommutativity defined by the Moyal star product). We show that in the case of noncommutative Jackiw-Teitelboim gravity the path integral over gravitational degrees of freedom can be performed exactly even in the presence of a matter field. In the matter sector, we study possible choices of the operators describing quantum fluctuations and define their basic properties (e.g., the Lichnerowicz formula). Then we evaluate two leading terms in the heat kernel expansion, calculate the conformal anomaly and the Polyakov action (as an expansion in the conformal field).