In functional analysis, a branch of mathematics, the **Borel functional calculus** is a *functional calculus* (that is, an assignment of operators from commutative algebras to functions defined on their spectra), which has particularly broad scope.^{[1]}^{[2]} Thus for instance if *T* is an operator, applying the squaring function *s* → *s*^{2} to *T* yields the operator *T*^{2}. Using the functional calculus for larger classes of functions, we can for example define rigorously the "square root" of the (negative) Laplacian operator −Δ or the exponential

The 'scope' here means the kind of *function of an operator* which is allowed. The Borel functional calculus is more general than the continuous functional calculus, and its focus is different than the holomorphic functional calculus.

More precisely, the Borel functional calculus allows for applying an arbitrary Borel function to a self-adjoint operator, in a way that generalizes applying a polynomial function.

If *T* is a self-adjoint operator on a finite-dimensional inner product space *H*, then *H* has an orthonormal basis {*e*_{1}, ..., *e _{ℓ}*} consisting of eigenvectors of

Thus, for any positive integer *n*,

If only polynomials in *T* are considered, then one gets the holomorphic functional calculus. The relation also holds for more general functions of *T*. Given a Borel function *h*, one can define an operator *h*(*T*) by specifying its behavior on the basis:

Generally, any self-adjoint operator *T* is unitarily equivalent to a multiplication operator; this means that for many purposes, *T* can be considered as an operator

acting on

For many technical purposes, the previous formulation is good enough. However, it is desirable to formulate the functional calculus in a way that does not depend on the particular representation of *T* as a multiplication operator. That's what we do in the next section.

Formally, the bounded Borel functional calculus of a self adjoint operator *T* on Hilbert space *H* is a mapping defined on the space of bounded complex-valued Borel functions *f* on the real line,

such that the following conditions hold

- π
_{T}is an involution-preserving and unit-preserving homomorphism from the ring of complex-valued bounded measurable functions on**R**. - If ξ is an element of
*H*, thenis a countably additive measure on the Borel sets*E*of**R**. In the above formula**1**_{E}denotes the indicator function of*E*. These measures ν_{ξ}are called the**spectral measures**of*T*. - If η denotes the mapping
*z*→*z*on**C**, then:

**Theorem** — Any self-adjoint operator *T* has a unique Borel functional calculus.

This defines the functional calculus for *bounded* functions applied to possibly *unbounded* self-adjoint operators. Using the bounded functional calculus, one can prove part of the Stone's theorem on one-parameter unitary groups:

**Theorem** — If *A* is a self-adjoint operator, then

is a 1-parameter strongly continuous unitary group whose infinitesimal generator is

As an application, we consider the Schrödinger equation, or equivalently, the dynamics of a quantum mechanical system. In non-relativistic quantum mechanics, the Hamiltonian operator *H* models the total energy observable of a quantum mechanical system **S**. The unitary group generated by *iH* corresponds to the time evolution of **S**.

We can also use the Borel functional calculus to abstractly solve some linear initial value problems such as the heat equation, or Maxwell's equations.

The existence of a mapping with the properties of a functional calculus requires proof. For the case of a bounded self-adjoint operator *T*, the existence of a Borel functional calculus can be shown in an elementary way as follows:

First pass from polynomial to continuous functional calculus by using the Stone–Weierstrass theorem. The crucial fact here is that, for a bounded self adjoint operator *T* and a polynomial *p*,

Consequently, the mapping

is an isometry and a densely defined homomorphism on the ring of polynomial functions. Extending by continuity defines

Alternatively, the continuous calculus can be obtained via the Gelfand transform, in the context of commutative Banach algebras. Extending to measurable functions is achieved by applying Riesz-Markov, as above. In this formulation, *T* can be a normal operator.

Given an operator *T*, the range of the continuous functional calculus *h* → *h*(*T*) is the (abelian) C*-algebra *C*(*T*) generated by *T*. The Borel functional calculus has a larger range, that is the closure of *C*(*T*) in the weak operator topology, a (still abelian) von Neumann algebra.

See also: Operational calculus |

We can also define the functional calculus for not necessarily bounded Borel functions *h*; the result is an operator which in general fails to be bounded. Using the multiplication by a function *f* model of a self-adjoint operator given by the spectral theorem, this is multiplication by the composition of *h* with *f*.

**Theorem** — Let *T* be a self-adjoint operator on *H*, *h* a real-valued Borel function on **R**. There is a unique operator *S* such that

The operator *S* of the previous theorem is denoted *h*(*T*).

More generally, a Borel functional calculus also exists for (bounded) normal operators.

Let *T* be a self-adjoint operator. If *E* is a Borel subset of **R**, and **1**_{E} is the indicator function of *E*, then **1**_{E}(*T*) is a self-adjoint projection on *H*. Then mapping

is a projection-valued measure. The measure of

Depending on the source, the **resolution of the identity** is defined, either as a projection-valued measure ,^{[3]} or as a one-parameter family of projection-valued measures with .^{[4]}

In the case of a discrete measure (in particular, when *H* is finite-dimensional), can be written as

in the Dirac notation, where each is a normalized eigenvector of

In physics literature, using the above as heuristic, one passes to the case when the spectral measure is no longer discrete and write the resolution of identity as

and speak of a "continuous basis", or "continuum of basis states", Mathematically, unless rigorous justifications are given, this expression is purely formal.