Fields, Strings, Gravity
The Fields, Strings, and Gravity group's research focuses on fundamental questions in theoretical physics and mathematics and forms part of the Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP) at UC, Davis.
Our understanding of quantum dynamics in diverse regimes, ranging from low energy dynamics of many-body systems seen in table-top experiments, to ultra-high energy particle physics seen at colliders, is well captured by the framework of quantum field theory. However, despite its many successes, there remain some inadequacies in our understanding of quantum field theories.
On the one hand, the dynamics of gravitational interactions does not fit well within this framework, as well exemplified by both technical issues pertaining to renormalization and conceptual issues relating to the black hole information paradox. Attempting to reconcile some of these problems naturally leads us to string theory, which replaces the canonical particle-like degrees of freedom of quantum field theory with string-like degrees of freedom. Again while string theory has been successful in addressing some questions, many others still remain a subject of active research.
On the other hand, recent developments in the past two decades have revealed a plethora of intriguing surprises. The AdS/CFT correspondence discovered close to the turn of the century makes it clear that there is a complex duality between string theory and quantum field theory. Likewise, the study of quantum scattering amplitudes has revealed new mathematical structures which suggest that the traditional formulations of quantum fields may be superseded by a simpler framework.
The main research focus of the group is to develop our understanding of these issues further. Some of the current areas of research we are focused on include:
- What role does quantum information play in formulating quantum field theories and how does it elucidate the duality between field theory and strings?
- What is the simplest formulation of quantum field theory?
- How does one derive universal features of low energy dynamics seen in diverse physical systems from these fundamental formulations?
- What is the appropriate mathematical language for describing the dynamics of quantum fields?
For a list of the group's activities and research interests please refer to the Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP) pages.