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December 3, 2005

Twisted N=4 SYM and Special Holonomy

Luboš blogs about Witten’s Loeb Lecturestalks at Harvard on Geometric Langlands, and reminds me of one of the most beautiful (and, at least in the Mathematics community, unexploited) aspects of the subject: the connection between topological twistings of N=4N=4 SYM and manifolds of special holonomy.

So I thought I’d post a little review…

We’ll work directly in Euclidean signature, on a 4D spin-manifold, MM. The field content of (twisted) N=4N=4 SYM is as follows

  • AA, a connection on a principal GG-bundle, PMP\to M.
  • Fermions, ψΓ((S +(M)VS (M)V¯)ad(P))\psi\in \Gamma\left(( S^+(M)\otimes V \oplus S^-(M)\otimes \overline{V})\otimes ad(P)\right)
  • Bosons, ϕΓ(( 2V) ad(P))\phi\in \Gamma\left((\wedge^2V)_\mathbb{R}\otimes ad(P)\right)

Here VV is a rank-4 vector bundle associated to principal spin bundle of MM, via some 4d representation. The “untwisted” theory corresponds to taking V=𝒪 4V=\mathcal{O}^{\oplus 4}, the rank-4 trivial bundle. More generally, the representations of Spin(4)Spin(4) are real or pseudoreal, so VV¯V\simeq \overline {V} and, moreover, 2(V)\wedge^2(V) is inevitably associated to a real representation of Spin(4)Spin(4). ( 2V) (\wedge^2V)_\mathbb{R} is the associated rank-6 real vector bundle.

The (would-be) supercharges, like the fermions, transform as sections of

(1)
S +(M)VS (M)V¯(S +(M)S (M))V S^+(M)\otimes V \oplus S^-(M)\otimes \overline{V} \simeq (S^+(M) \oplus S^-(M) )\otimes V

For VV trivial, supersymmetry is generally broken (the above bundle has no nowhere-vanishing sections) unless MM is flat. The topologically-twisted versions correspond to choices of VV, for which the bundle (1) has a trivial subbundle, and hence one or more unbroken supercharges, even on a general curved manifold MM.

The basic observation is that, up to parity, there are three choices of VV with this property. They are

  1. V=S +S +V= S^+\oplus S^+
  2. V=S +S V= S^+\oplus S^-
  3. V=S +𝒪 2V= S^+\oplus \mathcal{O}^{\oplus 2}

The basic relations (which follow from the elementary group theory of Spin(4)=SU(2)×SU(2)Spin(4)= SU(2)\times SU(2)) are

S +S +=𝒪( 2T *) +,S S =𝒪( 2T *) ,S +S =T * S^+\otimes S^+ = \mathcal{O} \oplus (\wedge^2 T^*_\mathbb{C})_+,\quad S^-\otimes S^- = \mathcal{O} \oplus (\wedge^2 T^*_\mathbb{C})_-,\quad S^+\otimes S^- = T^*_\mathbb{C}

So, for the three cases, we find

  1. Fermions (supercharges) in (S +S )V=(𝒪T *( 2T *) +) 2(S^+\oplus S^-)\otimes V = \left(\mathcal{O}\oplus T^*_\mathbb{C} \oplus (\wedge^2 T^*_\mathbb{C})_+\right)^{\oplus 2} and bosons in ( 2V) = 3( 2T *) +(\wedge^2V)_\mathbb{R}= \mathbb{R}^3\oplus (\wedge^2 T^*)_+
  2. Fermions (supercharges) in (S +S )V=𝒪𝒪T *T * 2T *(S^+\oplus S^-)\otimes V =\mathcal{O}\oplus \mathcal{O} \oplus T^*_\mathbb{C} \oplus T^*_\mathbb{C}\oplus \wedge^2 T^*_\mathbb{C} and bosons in ( 2V) = 2T *(\wedge^2V)_\mathbb{R}= \mathbb{R}^2\oplus T^*
  3. Fermions (supercharges) in (S +S )V=𝒪T *(S +S ) 2(S^+\oplus S^-)\otimes V =\mathcal{O}\oplus T^*_\mathbb{C} \oplus (S^+\oplus S^-)^{\oplus 2} and bosons in ( 2V) = 2(S +S +) (\wedge^2V)_\mathbb{R}= \mathbb{R}^2\oplus (S^+\oplus S^+)_\mathbb{R}

You might be forgiven if, at first, you don’t see the pattern in this list. But, if you think physically, the answer becomes clear. These topologically-twisted theories arise as the world-volume theories on (Euclidean) D3-branes wrapped on a supersymmetric 4-cycle MXM\subset X, where XX is a spin 10-manifold. The bosons above arise as sections of the normal bundle, N M|XN_{M|X}. What are the possible cases that arise? They’re all related to the manifolds of special holonomy which admit supersymmetric 4-cycles.

  1. Let X= 3×YX=\mathbb{R}^3\times Y, where YY is a 7-manifold, Y=( 2T *) +MY=(\wedge^2T^*)_+\to M, the bundle of self-dual 2-forms on MM. Bryant showed that YY admits a metric of G 2G_2-holonomy, and, with respect to this metric, MM — embedded via the zero-section — is a supersymmetric cycle. The normal bundle, N M|X=R 3( 2T *) +N_{M|X}= R^3\oplus (\wedge^2T^*)_+.
  2. Let X= 2×YX= \mathbb{R}^2\times Y, where Y=T *MY= T^*\to M, the total space of the cotangent bundle of MM, which is a Calabi-Yau 4-fold, admitting a metric of SU(4)SU(4)-holonomy. Again, MM — embedded via the zero-section — is a supersymmetric 4-cycle. The normal bundle is N M|X=R 2T *N_{M|X}= R^2\oplus T^*.
  3. Finally, let X= 2×YX= \mathbb{R}^2\times Y, where YY is the total space of (S +S +) M(S^+\oplus S^+)_\mathbb{R}\to M and admits a metric of Spin(7)Spin(7)-holonomy.

That’s the exhaustive list of manifolds of special holonomy which admit supersymmetric 4-cycles, so that’s the list of topologically-twisted version of N=4N=4 SYM. The first two cases have a pair of unbroken nilpotent supercharges; the third has just a single nilpotent supercharge. Each one is interesting in its own right, but it’s case 2 which is of relevance to Geometric Langlands. I’ll explain why, on some other occasion.

Posted by distler at December 3, 2005 12:13 AM

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Re: Twisted N=4 SYM and Special Holonomy

Witten wasn’t giving the Loeb lectures (that was Hopfield). He was speaking Thursday in the joint Boston area mathematics colloquium and Friday in the Harvard math department gauge theory and topology seminar.

By the way, a character doesn’t appear correctly in this posting, both on mozilla in linux and IE on windows. Looks like its a blackboard bold C.

Posted by: Peter Woit on December 3, 2005 1:57 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Corrections

Witten wasn’t giving the Loeb lectures (that was Hopfield). He was speaking Thursday in the joint Boston area mathematics colloquium and Friday in the Harvard math department gauge theory and topology seminar.

Ah. Yes… too many lectures to keeps straight.

By the way, a character doesn’t appear correctly in this posting, both on mozilla in linux and IE on windows. Looks like its a blackboard bold C.

No, I assume it’s a \mathcal{O} (U+1D4AA or 𝒪). Because of various stupidities, you need a font with Unicode Plane-1 characters, like Code2001 installed if you want to see the Math Calligraphic letters (except for ℬ, ℰ, ℱ, ℋ, ℐ, ℒ, ℳ or ℛ), Blackboard Bold letters (except for ℂ, ℍ, ℕ, ℙ, ℚ, ℝ or ℤ) or Fraktur letters.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on December 3, 2005 10:59 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

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