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Three roles of quantum field theory, part 1

Posted in
Graeme Segal
Hausdorff Center for Mathematics
Mon, 2011-05-02 14:15 - 15:15
Parent event: 
Felix Klein Lectures 2011

Quantum field theory has many roles, and the lectures will be about three of them. The primary role is to provide a description of all of fundamental physics when gravity is firmly excluded. A second, at first surprising, role has emerged from string theory, which is a theory of gravitation: it turns out that a two-dimensional field theory can be regarded as a generalized manifold, and in particular can be a model for space-time. Thirdly, quite apart from physics, the concept of a field theory has taken on a new life as an organizing principle in other areas of mathematics - not only in geometry and representation theory, but even in connection with quantum computing.

The three roles can be seen together as aspects of noncommutative geometry, and that will be a central theme of the lectures. The talks will aim to show how powerful the field theory idea is by jumping between a variety of contexts, beginning from the origins of the structure in particle physics, with a little about so-called "Wick rotation", and then moving towards more pure-mathematical applications to analysis, algebra, and the structure of manifolds.

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