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An Outline of String Theory

Miao Li

Institute of Theoretical Physics Beijing, China

I. Background II. Elements of string theory III. Branes in string theory IV. Black holes in string theoryholography-Maldacena’s conjecture

I. Background
1. The world viewed by a reductionist
Let’s start from where Feynman’s lecture starts A drop of water times enlarged 10^9


heat transport (to cool your Soup.Feynman was able to deduce a lot of things from a single sentence: All forms of matter consist of atoms. 1. liquid… 2. Understanding of sounds. waves… . blow it) 3. Qualitative properties of gas. Evaporation.

Atomic structure Electron. point-like H: 10^{-8}cm Nucleus 10^{-13} cm Theory: QED (including Lamb shift) Interaction strength: .

chemical reactions. . superconductors. Periodic table of elements. some of biology.Dirac: QED explains all of chemistry and most of physics.

d=-1/3 U(1).Sub-atomic structure Nucleus of H=proton u d u u=2/3 U(1). in addition. colors of SU(3) .

Neutron: d u d Interaction strengths QED Size of H=Compton length of electron/α= .

perturbative methods fail.Strong interaction Size of proton=Compton length of quark/ So the strong interactions are truly strong. QCD is Still unsolved .

For quarks: -mass of u-quark -mass of W-boson .Another subatomic force: weak interaction β-decay How strong (or how weak) is weak interaction? Depends on the situation.

gravity.Finally. the weakest of all four interactions -mass of proton -Planck mass (so ) .


Strong interaction-SU(3) Yang-Mills
Electromagnetic Weak interaction Gravity SU(2)XU(1)

To asses the possibility of unification, let’s Take a look at

2. A brief history of amalgamation of physical theories. Movement of earthly bodies. Movement of celestial bodies.
Newtonian mechanics + universal gravitation. 17th century.

Mechanics Heat, thermodynamics Atomic theory, statistical mechanics of Maxwell, Boltzmann, Gibbs, 19th century.

Electrodynamics Magnetism Light, X-rays, γ-rays
Faraday, Maxwell, 19th century.

total Five Nobel medals for this unification. Weinberg-Salam model. Nobel prize in 1999. The disparity between 10^{-2} and 10^{-6} is solved by symmetry breaking in gauge theory. 1960’s-1970’s (`t Hooft. Veltman.Quantum electrodynamics Weak interaction Semi-unification.) .

Although eletro-weak. strong interaction appear as different forces. they are governed by the same universal principle: Quantum mechanics or better Qantum field theory valid up to .

goes up with E goes down with E (b) runs as powers of E if there are large compact dimensions ( ) . there is evidence for unification of 3 forces: (a) In 4 dimensions.Further.

So. the first ever discovered interaction. (a) The mediation particle has spin 2. we have a great opportunity here! Why gravity is different? There are many aspects. has resisted being put into the framework of quantum field theory.3. here is a few. Difficulty with gravity Gravity. .

Thus amplitude= The next order to the Born approximation amplitude= .

causal structure is lost. If geometry fluctuates violently.(b) According to Einstein theory. (c) The existence of black holes. singularity . gravity is geometry. (c1) The failure of classical geometry.

Hawking radiation. the weak the interaction. is quantum coherence lost? Curiously. . The larger the BH.(c2) A black hole has a finite entropy. the interaction strength at the horizon is not . or a state of a black hole can not be specified by what is observed outside.

Size of black hole=Compton length/ or .GR predicts the surface gravity be Curiously.

To summarize. the present day’s accepted picture of our fundamental theory is .

however. Initially. The emergence of string theory A little history Strong interaction is described by QCD.4.ρ. there appeared infinitely many resonant states ( π.ω…) . the dual resonance model was invented to describe strong interaction first. and eventually became a candidate of theory of quantum gravity.

we need to sum up all intermediate states: π π =Σ n π π π π π Denote this amplitude by A(s.None of the resonant states appears more fundamental than others. In calculating an amplitude.t) : (a) π .

. we must have Namely Σ n = Σ n This is the famous s-t channel duality.(b) Analytically extend A(s. t.t) to the complex plane of s.

A simple formula satisfying (a) and (b) is the famous Veneziano amplitude polynomial in t: Σ t^J. J-spin of the intermediate state linear trajectory .

This remarkable formula leads us to String theory For simplicity. consider open strings (to which Veneziano amplitude corresponds) Ground state v=c v=c An excited state v=c v=c .

We look at a simple situation (Neuman->Dirichlet) x σ x σ .To calculate the spectrum of the excited states.

Let the tension of the string be T. according to Heisenberg uncertainty relation Now or .

π’s. then Casimir effect The above derivation ignores factors such as 2’s. More generally.If . there can be We discovered the linear trajectory. .

To have a massless graviton. we can have only integral spins.M. . spin 1: gauge bosons spin 2: graviton (c) To have a massless gauge boson. a=-1. a=-2 (need to use closed strings).Morals: (a) There are infinitely many massive states resulting from a single string (Q. no internal colors. is essential) (b) If we have only “bosonic strings”.

First quantized strings.II. Elements of string theory 1. Feynman rules Particle analogue Action .

A classical particle travels along the shortest path. so we would like to compute . while a quantum particle can travel along different paths simultaneously.

Generalization to a string T dS tension of the string Minkowski area element dS .

string can propagate consistently only when the dimension of spacetime is D=26 Why is it so? We have the string spectrum .Curiously.

Each physical boson on the world sheet contributes to the Casimir energy an amount a=-1/24. When n=1, we obtain a spin vector field with # of degrees D-2 For

A tachyon! This breaks Lorentz invariance, so only for D=26, Lorentz invariance is maintained.

But there is a tachyon at n=0, bosonic string theory is unstable.

Unstable mode if E is complex

For a closed string

(There are two sets of D-2 modes, left moving and right moving: )

For n=2, we have a spin 2 particle, there are however only ½ D(D-3) such states, it ought to be massless to respect Lorentz invariance, again D=26. Interactions In case of particles, use Feynman diagram to describe physical process perturbatively:



Associated to each type of vertex more legs there is a coupling constant The only constraint on these couplings is renormalizability. Associated with each propagator = .

.Or By analogy. for string interaction + +… The remarkable fact is that for each topology there is only one diagram.

While for particles. this is not the case. for example = + + + +… .

Surely. One can trace this back to the fact that there is unique string interaction vertex: = Rejoining or splitting . this is the origin of s-t channel duality.

The contribution of a given diagram is n=# of vertices = genus of the world sheet. In case of the closed strings + .

Again. there is a unique diagram for each topology. the vertex is also unique = The open string theory must contain closed Strings = .

There is a simple relation between the open string and the closed string couplings. unitarity requires closed strings be in the spectrum.The intermediate state is a closed string. Emission vertex= .

.Now Emission vertex= Thus.

2. Gauge interaction and gravitation = massless open strings = massless closed strings Define the string scale .

Yang-Mills coupling = by dimensional analysis. Gravitational coupling .

So If there is a compact space D=4+d =volume of the compact space We have .

Since in 4 dimensions . say . we demand . we have Phenomenologically. With the advent of D-branes. scale. at the unification We see that in order to raise the string scale. in the T-dual picture this Implies Large extra dimensions . so .

the particle analogue is The same as what Dirac did. ( ) . one is led to introducing fermions living on the world sheet.3. supersymmetry In order to incorporate spin ½ etc into the string spectrum. Again. Introducing fermions.

Similarly. on the This led to the discovery of supersymmetry for the first time in the western world (2D) (independent of Golfand and Lihktman) Two sectors (a) Ramond sector . one introduces world sheet.

(b) Neveu-Schwarz sector The Ramond sector contains spacetime fermions Zero mode The Neveu-Schwarz sector contains bosons .

massless gauge bosons R: n=0.Now the on-shell condition is modified to (open string) n-integer in R sector n-half integer in NS sector D=10: NS: n=1/2. massless fermions .

In a way. they are unstable.8 bosons + 8 fermions =supermultiplet in 10D. Spacetime supersymmetry is a consequence. . but quantum mechanics disfavors pure bosons. we can say the following (a) Bosonic strings are strings moving in the ordinary spacetime .

no way to avoid SUSY! . Five different string theories in 10 dimensions.1 open superstring or type I string theory Characteristics: . Consistency conditions allow for only 5 different string theories (it appears that we have a complete list. 4. thanks to duality) 4.(b) Superstrings move in superspace or .

(b) As we said. there must be closed strings (unitarity). fundamental representation of G.(a) There are open strings. (c) One can associate a charge to an end of an open string. whose massless modes are super Yang-Mills in 10D. The massless modes are N=1 SUGRA in 10D. anti-fundamental rep of G .

For Sp(N) and SO(N). SO(N). Sp(N). For U(N). the two ends are different. therefore one may label the orientation of the string. G can be U(N). the two ends are identical. anomaly cancellation G= SO(32) . (d) Further. thus the string is un-oriented.Combined. they form the adjoint rep of G.

Type I theory is also chiral. 4.2 Closed superstring, type IIA For a closed string: and

The left movers are independent of the right movers.

or superposition of them.

two sets of


Therefore, two basic choices One choice: chiral anti-chiral
We have type IIA superstring theory, no chirality. Thus, it appears that it has nothing to do with the real world. The massless modes = type IIA SUGRA.

4.3 Type IIB superstring theory If

chiral chiral

We have type IIB string theory, it is chiral. Although type IIB theory is chiral, it has no gauge group, it appears to be ruled out by Nature too.

but the . it leads to gauge group Gauge symmetry is enhanced: or .4 Two heterotic string theories L: 10D superstring R: 26D bosonic string 26=10+16 Naively.4.

is this merely coincidence? Some lessons we learned before the summer of 1994: 1. it must have SUSY. String theory is remarkably rigid. . Remarkably. . it must live in 10D. Even the string coupling constant is dynamical. the low energy sector of the SO(32) heterotic theory is identical to that of type I theory. there is only one the theory is chiral. There are only 5 different theories.In the heterotic theory.

4. is small. 3. The more the energy. we have to develop nonperturbative methods. It has too many consistent vacuum solutions. The high energy behavior is extremely soft. Sometimes. The theory is finite. It tells us that some concepts of spacetime are illusion. . for instance T-duality tells us that a circle of radius R is equivalent to a circle of radius 1/R (in string unit). to pick up one which describes our world.2. the larger the area S. even spaces of different topologies are equivalent.

There are a lot of things unknown to us. … . 2.5. No derivation of the standard model. what happens to singularities. we must be modest (such as. What happens to black holes. Any nonpertubative calculation. 3. what about the cosmological constant?) What we could not do before 1994: 1.

it was often asked that if one can replace particles by strings. Why branes? In the past.III. why not other branes such as membranes? The answer to this question were always: (a) We know how to quantize particles and strings. . Branes in String/M theory 1. while we inevitably end up with inconsistency in quantizing other objects.

these objects can be quantized indirectly by quantizing fluctuations of original fields in the soliton background. (a) In some QFT. To avoid this no-go theorem. we need to look up no other than quantum field theory. there are solitons.(b) Perturbative string theory is unitary. . no need to add to the spectrum other things. Thus (a) and in particular (b) sounds like a no-go theorem.

. their masses are heavy when g is small. but nonperturbatively the S-matrix may not be unitary (showing up in resummation of a divergent series).(b) A theory may be unitary perturbatively. Such inconsistency arises in particular when new stable particles exist.

for a oriented closed string there is also a gauge field . when there is an Abelian gauge field Happily.Some stable particles can be associated with conservation of charge. For example.

. This is just conservation of winding number. when the space has a simple topology.Of course. there is no conserved charge string If there is a circle and the string is wrapped on it. there is a charge.

for instance. strings. . Are these fields wasted? There is a plausible argument for the existence of p-brane coupled to C . are not coupled to them directly. the so called Ramond-Ramond tensor field: But the perturbative states. there is a variety of other high rank gauge fields.In a string theory.

One can always find a black-brane solution with a long-ranged p+1 horizon r .

In other words. If . but it A soliton charged under . .When . there is no apparent function source for . stable. black brane decays. the source is the smeared fields carried by the BH solution. will stop at . This avoids the apparent paradox that perturbative fields carry no charge.

or multiple D-branes. The p-brane will be called D-brane. but there is another beautiful interpretation! . Their tension is large when g small. They can be viewed as a “collective” excitation of strings. implies naked singularity.The stability is due to (a) (b) is conserved.

(The brane is like a defect in a superconductor. the ends of a open string are stuck on a D-brane. Namely. Emergence of D-branes D is shorthand for Dirichlet.) + - . In a closed string theory.2. these ends are confined in the bulk.

we have the trouble for accounting a continuous spectrum. Fortunately. it was proven that must be quantized.We argued that there must be fundamental branes saturating the BPS bound . according to a generalized Dirac quantization condition. as the classical solution suggests. some time ago. If is continuous. .

.Denote dual to rank=8-p rank=p+2 Thus Some unit Both and are quantized.

We said that the microscopic description of a fundamental p-brane is D-brane. 2. .1 T-duality To understand the logic behind D-branes. We now follow the route that Polchinski originally followed to see how this description emerges in string theory. we need to review T-duality.

There are waves on a circle: There are also winding states on a circle: .

Define a new radius such that Then That is. We cannot distinguish a string theory on a circle of radius R from another string theory on a circle of radius . T-duality. . wave modes winding modes.

How do we map open string wave modes? An open string can couple to a gauge field tangent to a circle: .2 T-duality for open strings Starting with an open string theory which contains closed strings automatically.2.

if The natural interpretation is θ .

an open string wave mode is mapped to a winding mode with ends attached to something: D-branes. the ends stick to branes. In the original theory momentum is conserved. In the original theory. winding is not conserved. thus in the dual theory winding number is conserved. no such quantum number.Thus. Boundary conditions on the ends of the string are Dirichlet. .

3 Brane tension emission absorption Open string channel Closed string channel .2.

The old idea of s-t channel duality: = one-loop tree-level From the open string perspective. independent of g . the interaction between 2 D-branes : Amplitude= vacuum fluctuations.

From the closed string perspective amplitude = But Exact formula is .

. Open string fluctuations traverse to D-branes: scalar fields.4 Effective theory on D-branes Open string fluctuations longitudinal to Dbranes: gauge fields. Fermions = Goldstone modes.2.

The position of a D-brane = vev of scalars A geometric interpretation of the Higgs mechanism: massless massive .

Branes as solitonic solutions Back to the field. (generalization of ) We use the action .3.

Postulate a solution breaking Breaking .

Further. The solution is .

That is. .When r large so When r small There is no pt-like source for . the all non-linear structure of fields serve as a smeared source-just like the monopole solution in a broken gauge theory.

or rather the tension While It is interesting to note that there is a formal horizon: .The mass.

We know that it is the ground state of N coincident D-branes. .But there is no entropy So this “black brane” is more or less a pure state.

4. there is soliton with mass so How to understand the theory when There is an additional circle of radius so is a K-K mode of graviton. ? pt-like . Implications for string dualities • In type IIA string theory.

Z) duality.q)-dyonic strings. this is the heterotic string. there is D-string Bound states of D-strings + F-strings: (p. • In type I theory. there is also Another kind of D-string.• Type IIB theory. The list continues … . This is implied by the SL(2.

Type I SO(32) or Heterotic SO(32) heterotic string 32 free fermions 16 bosons .

only a very massive collapsing body can form a black hole due to the fact that the basic matter constituents are fermions. Black holes in string theory 1. . Basics In real world.IV. Small black holes could (and perhaps did) form in early universe.

In an ideal situation. any mass of black hole can form. . The typical black hole (in 4D) No signal can escape from the horizon. such as a free scalar field.

angular momentum.• Black hole no hair theorem Outside a black hole. associated to long range fields: Mass. charge Gravitational field. one can measure only a few conserved quantities. EM field .

• Classical information loss Black hole .

state 2. … state 1 billion The same black hole . State 1. state 3. a black hole must have entropy.• Bekenstein-Hawking entropy Due to the no-hair theorem and the second law of thermodynamics.

Thus. S of the black hole must be ~ A So. what is α? . Bekenstein reasoned S=αA But.An interesting theorem proven in 60’s and 70’s: A = area of black hole never decreases.

Hawking discovered Hawking radiation and computed Use . This differs from the correct value ¼. using an infalling massive spin particle.Bekenstein argued. that .

.• Thermodynamics Zero-th law: there is a temperature. First law: Second law: Third law: T=0 is impossible.

mixed state .• Quantum information loss Radiation.

Perturbative string theory is important in dealing with such a situation. Black holes in string theory Pre D-brane era Almost no string theorits believed in the claim of Hawking.2. . that QM breaks down. to quote Susskind: String theory perhaps has to solve itself before solving the information loss paradox-Scientific American. and Einstein wins anyway.

An incomplete list: (a) It appears that some nonlocality must be involved in order for the radiation carries away information. (b) Strikingly similar to D-branes. String theoy has some nonlocality built in.There were a few proposals. .

(c) Susskind-Horowitz-Polchinski correspondence principle For a massive string oscillation level So But for a bh .

. But in 4D: or for The correspondence point: for we have string and for we have a bh.Horowitz-Polchinski suggested (post-D-brane) that in order to form a bh. G must be tuned on.

Schematically lng BH phase String phase lnN Phase transition line? .

1 Near extremal black D-branes The pure D-brane solution . Black holes in string theory-D-brane age 3.3.

Exciting the branes hot gas .There is no entropy on the pure branes.

Near extremal black brane Thus At the horizon Horizon area = .

Specified to p=3 is independent of Counting the entropy of a free Yang-Mills gas. one finds The discrepancy is due to the large effective coupling on the black brane: .

p=3 is called non-dilaton black brane. ML . not much research exists For p=1. For p=2. Hashimoto-Izthaki For p=0. theories are sufficient complex. since In general For 6>p>3.

2 Extremal black holes (branes) Strominger-Vafa A black hole in 5D T5: D5-branes waves D1-branes T4 .3.

Physical picture: D5-D1 open strings species The classical solutions .

where The horizon volume fixed at r=0 expands at r=0 .and other gauge fields.

To compute entropy. we also need So Exact result: Thus the # of states is .

Microscopic origin: A 1D gas of open strings In the weak coupling limit: For a boson or a fermion: .

for a fermion c=1/2. For the system of the D1-D5 strings .The exact formula (Cardy) is For a boson c=1.

This result is valid even in case of the large : by extrapolating BPS states. (b) Near extremal BH by adding left moving modes. . Further develoments: (a) 4 charged BH in 4D. (c) Hawking radiation.

The idea of Hawking radiation viewed in Dbrane picture is simple: D-brane calculation reproduces Hawking’s formula (Das-Mathur) .

Are there magic nonrenormalization theorem? . complete agreement. Potential due to the background .(d) Grey-body factor . Maldacena-Strominger.

In the D1-D5 case . The fact that the near horizon geometry is AdS is the initial strong motivation for this conjecture.Maldacea conjecture: The supergravity (or string theory) is dual to the CFT on the branes.

AdS5XS5: .Need large Geometry: to have semi-classical Need small : Another much-studied case is D3-branes.

Beyond D-branes 4. No need of D-brane charges.4.1 Horowitz-Polchinski’s correspondence Curvature ~ String states or brane states BH’s Entropy matches ~ O(1) coefficient. .

. Horowitz-Martinec. .4. need to solve many body problem accurately.2 Matrix BH … …… …. boost Gas of D0-branes Qualitatively understood: Banks et al. ML. ML&Martinec But in order to compute exact coefficient.

.3 AdS Can study near extremal BH only ( c>0 ). One may also study singularity.4. But provides an opportunity to study formation and evaporation of BH accurately. Technically unlikely to be solved in the near future.3 are under the influence of Dbranes.2 and 4. Both 4.

. (d) For p=3. information puzzle (c) Counting entropy for near-extremal BH accurately for p<3. BH problem is unsolved (a) Counting entropy for Schwarzschild BH honestly. accurately.5. understand ¾. (b) Dynamic process of formation of BH in Dbrane picture or AdS/CFT .

(e) Prove the existence of gas transition. BH phase (d) Matrix BH need to be studied further …… .