Chern-Simons theory is a topological gauge field theory and play a prominent role in many brnaches of phyiscs and mathematics. On the physical side, it appears for example in three-dimensional theories of gravity, in the description of the fractional Quantum-Hall effect in condensed matter physics, as well as in high-energy and mathematical physics, like in string theory, holography and relations to conformal field theories. On the other hand, it has been studies by mathematicians, as it is deeply connected to knot invariants and three-dimensional topology.

Does anyone know some text, like a book or review, about the history of Chern-Simons theory? Chern-Simons theory was first defined (in its Abelian version) in a paper of Schwarz. However, afterwards the history is less clear to me and it seems to be very non-linear. Of course, one of the most import historical works are the works of Witten on Chern-Simons theory and knot theory, but there seems to be also many other works around the same time on this theory.

I am interested in the history of general Chern-Simons theory, both the classical and quantum case.

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    $\begingroup$ Re "Chern-Simons theory was first defined (in its Abelian version) in a paper of Schwarz." Please supply a full citation for this paper. Using this paper as a starting point, where else have you looked, and where are you having problems tracing the further historical development? Sharing the results of preliminary research in the question will help avoid work duplication. Re "the works of Witten on Chern-Simons theory" Please add details of these references. $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Jan 4, 2023 at 23:00
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    $\begingroup$ Classical Chern-Simons theory goes back to the work of Chern and Weil in 1940s, which Chern and Simons followed up on in 1974, 5 years before Schwarz papers. Even Wikipedia's survey references some subsequent non-Witten contributions, like Deser-Jackiw-Templeton (1982). $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Jan 5, 2023 at 7:19
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    $\begingroup$ I am not aware of any historically focused study. There is a video from Simons with first hand account, some historical remarks on post-Witten developments in Labastida's survey Chern-Simons Gauge Theory: Ten Years After, and you can look for updates in the volume Chern-Simons Gauge Theory: 20 Years After. $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Jan 5, 2023 at 7:43


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