Define Operators Corresponding to Cobordisms Only Iff Each Connected Component of the Cobordism has Non-empty Outgoing Boundary. Drunken Risibility.



Define a category B whose objects are the oriented submanifolds of X, and whose vector space of morphisms from Y to Z is OYZ = ExtH(X)(H(Y), H(Z)) – the cohomology, as usual, has complex coefficients, and H(Y) and H(Z) are regarded as H(X)-modules by restriction. The composition of morphisms is given by the Yoneda composition of Ext groups. With this definition, however, it will not be true that OYZ is dual to OZY. (To see this it is enough to consider the case when Y = Z is a point of X, and X is a product of odd-dimensional spheres; then OYZ is a symmetric algebra, and is not self-dual as a vector space.)

We can do better by defining a cochain complex O’YZ of morphisms by

O’YZ = BΩ(X)(Ω(Y), Ω(Z)) —– (1)

where Ω(X) denotes the usual de Rham complex of a manifold X, and BA(B,C), for a differential graded algebra A and differential graded A- modules B and C, is the usual cobar resolution

Hom(B, C) → Hom(A ⊗ B, C) → Hom(A ⊗ A ⊗ B, C) → · · ·  —– (2)

in which the differential is given by

dƒ(a1 ⊗ · · · ⊗ ak ⊗ b) = 􏰝a1 ƒ(a2 ⊗ · · · ⊗ ak ⊗ b) + ∑(-1)i ƒ(a1 ⊗ · · · ⊗ aiai+1 ⊗ ak ⊗ b) + (-1)k ƒ(a1 ⊗ · · · ⊗ ak-1 ⊗ akb) —– (3)

whose cohomology is ExtA(B,C). This is different from OYZ = ExtH(X)(H(Y), H(Z)), but related to it by a spectral sequence whose E2-term is OYZ and which converges to H(O’YZ) = ExtΩ(X)(Ω(Y), Ω(Z)). But more important is that H(O’YZ) is the homology of the space PYZ of paths in X which begin in Y and end in Z. To be precise, Hp(O’YZ) ≅ Hp+dZ(PYZ), where dZ is the dimension of Z. On the cochain complexes the Yoneda composition is associative up to cochain homotopy, and defines a structure of an A category B’. The corresponding composition of homology groups

Hi(PYZ) × Hj(PZW) → Hi+j−dZ(PYW) —— (4)

is the composition of the Gysin map associated to the inclusion of the codimension dZ submanifold M of pairs of composable paths in the product PYZ × PZW with the concatenation map M → PYW.

Now let’s attempt to fit the closed string cochain algebra C to this A category. C is equivalent to the usual Hochschild complex of the differential graded algebra Ω(X), whose cohomology is the homology of the free loop space LX with its degrees shifted downwards by the dimension dX of X, so that the cohomology Hi(C) is potentially non-zero for −dX ≤ i < ∞. There is a map Hi(X) → H−i(C) which embeds the ordinary cohomology ring of X to the Pontrjagin ring of the based loop space L0X, based at any chosen point in X.

The structure is, however, not a cochain-level open and closed theory, as we have no trace maps inducing inner products on H(O’YZ). When one tries to define operators corresponding to cobordisms it turns out to be possible only when each connected component of the cobordism has non-empty outgoing boundary. 

Grothendieckian Construction of K-Theory with a Bundle that is Topologically Trivial and Class that is Torsion.


All relativistic quantum theories contain “antiparticles,” and allow the process of particle-antiparticle annihilation. This inspires a physical version of the Grothendieck construction of K-theory. Physics uses topological K-theory of manifolds, whose motivation is to organize vector bundles over a space into an algebraic invariant, that turns out to be useful. Algebraic K-theory started from Ki defined for i, with relations to classical constructions in algebra and number theory, followed by Quillen’s homotopy-theoretic definition ∀ i. The connections to algebra and number theory often persist for larger values of i, but in ways that are subtle and conjectural, such as special values of zeta- and L-functions.

One could also use the conserved charges of a configuration which can be measured at asymptotic infinity. By definition, these are left invariant by any physical process. Furthermore, they satisfy quantization conditions, of which the prototype is the Dirac condition on allowed electric and magnetic charges in Maxwell theory.

There is an elementary construction which, given a physical theory T, produces an abelian group of conserved charges K(T). Rather than considering the microscopic dynamics of the theory, all that is needed to be known is a set S of “particles” described by T, and a set of “bound state formation/decay processes” by which the particles combine or split to form other particles. These are called “binding processes.” Two sets of particles are “physically equivalent” if some sequence of binding processes convert the one to the other. We then define the group K(T) as the abelian group ZS of formal linear combinations of particles, quotiented by this equivalence relation.

Suppose T contains the particles S = {A,B,C}.

If these are completely stable, we could clearly define three integral conserved charges, their individual numbers, so K(T) ≅ Z3.

Introducing a binding process

A + B ↔ C —– (1)

with the bidirectional arrow to remind us that the process can go in either direction. Clearly K(T) ≅ Z2 in this case.

One might criticize this proposal on the grounds that we have assumed that configurations with a negative number of particles can exist. However, in all physical theories which satisfy the constraints of special relativity, charged particles in physical theories come with “antiparticles,” with the same mass but opposite charge. A particle and antiparticle can annihilate (combine) into a set of zero charge particles. While first discovered as a prediction of the Dirac equation, this follows from general axioms of quantum field theory, which also hold in string theory.

Thus, there are binding processes

B + B̄ ↔ Z1 + Z2 + · · · .

where B̄ is the antiparticle to a particle B, and Zi are zero charge particles, which must appear by energy conservation. To define the K-theory, we identify any such set of zero charge particles with the identity, so that

B + B̄ ↔ 0

Thus the antiparticles provide the negative elements of K(T).

Granting the existence of antiparticles, this construction of K-theory can be more simply rephrased as the Grothendieck construction. We can define K(T) as the group of pairs (E, F) ∈ (ZS, ZS), subject to the relations (E, F) ≅ (E+B, F +B) ≅ (E+L, F +R) ≅ (E+R, F +L), where (L, R) are the left and right hand side of a binding process (1).

Thinking of these as particles, each brane B must have an antibrane, which we denote by B̄. If B wraps a submanifold L, one expects that B̄ is a brane which wraps a submanifold L of opposite orientation. A potential problem is that it is not a priori obvious that the orientation of L actually matters physically, especially in degenerate cases such as L a point.

Now, let us take X as a Calabi-Yau threefold for definiteness. A physical A-brane, which are branes of the A-model topological string and thereby a TQFT shadow of the D-branes of the superstring, is specified by a pair (L, E) of a special Lagrangian submanifold L with a flat bundle E. The obvious question could be: When are (L1, E1) and (L2, E2) related by a binding process? A simple heuristic answer to this question is given by the Feynman path integral. Two configurations are connected, if they are connected by a continuous path through the configuration space; any such path (or a small deformation of it) will appear in the functional integral with some non-zero weight. Thus, the question is essentially topological. Ignoring the flat bundles for a moment, this tells us that the K-theory group for A-branes is H3(Y, Z), and the class of a brane is simply (rank E)·[L] ∈ H3(Y, Z). This is also clear if the moduli space of flat connections on L is connected.

But suppose it is not, say π1(L) is torsion. In this case, we need deeper physical arguments to decide whether the K-theory of these D-branes is H3(Y, Z), or some larger group. But a natural conjecture is that it will be K1(Y), which classifies bundles on odd-dimensional submanifolds. Two branes which differ only in the choice of flat connection are in fact connected in string theory, consistent with the K-group being H3(Y, Z). For Y a simply connected Calabi-Yau threefold, K1(Y) ≅ H3(Y, Z), so the general conjecture is borne out in this case

There is a natural bilinear form on H3(Y, Z) given by the oriented intersection number

I(L1, L2) = #([L1] ∩ [L2]) —– (2)

It has symmetry (−1)n. In particular, it is symplectic for n = 3. Furthermore, by Poincaré duality, it is unimodular, at least in our topological definition of K-theory.

D-branes, which are extended objects defined by mixed Dirichlet-Neumann boundary conditions in string theory, break half of the supersymmetries of the type II superstring and carry a complete set of electric and magnetic Ramond-Ramond charges. The product of the electric and magnetic charges is a single Dirac unit, and that the quantum of charge takes the value required by string duality. Saying that a D-brane has RR-charge means that it is a source for an “RR potential,” a generalized (p + 1)-form gauge potential in ten-dimensional space-time, which can be verified from its world-volume action that contains a minimal coupling term,

∫C(p + 1) —–(3)

where C(p + 1) denotes the gauge potential, and the integral is taken over the (p+1)-dimensional world-volume of the brane. For p = 0, C(1) is a one-form or “vector” potential (as in Maxwell theory), and thus the D0-brane is an electrically charged particle with respect to this 10d Maxwell theory. Upon further compactification, by which, the ten dimensions are R4 × X, and a Dp-brane which wraps a p-dimensional cycle L; in other words its world-volume is R × L where R is a time-like world-line in R4. Using the Poincaré dual class ωL ∈ H2n−p(X, R) to L in X, to rewrite (3) as an integral

R × X C(p + 1) ∧ ωL —– (4)

We can then do the integral over X to turn this into the integral of a one-form over a world-line in R4, which is the right form for the minimal electric coupling of a particle in four dimensions. Thus, such a wrapped brane carries a particular electric charge which can be detected at asymptotic infinity. Summarizing the RR-charge more formally,

LC = ∫XC ∧ ωL —– (5)

where C ∈ H∗(X, R). In other words, it is a class in Hp(X, R).

In particular, an A-brane (for n = 3) carries a conserved charge in H3(X, R). Of course, this is weaker than [L] ∈ H3(X, Z). To see this physically, we would need to see that some of these “electric” charges are actually “magnetic” charges, and study the Dirac-Schwinger-Zwanziger quantization condition between these charges. This amounts to showing that the angular momentum J of the electromagnetic field satisfies the quantization condition J = ħn/2 for n ∈ Z. Using an expression from electromagnetism, J⃗ = E⃗ × B⃗ , this is precisely the condition that (2) must take an integer value. Thus the physical and mathematical consistency conditions agree. Similar considerations apply for coisotropic A-branes. If X is a genuine Calabi-Yau 3-fold (i.e., with strict SU(3) holonomy), then a coisotropic A-brane which is not a special Lagrangian must be five-dimensional, and the corresponding submanifold L is rationally homologically trivial, since H5(X, Q) = 0. Thus, if the bundle E is topologically trivial, the homology class of L and thus its K-theory class is torsion.

If X is a torus, or a K3 surface, the situation is more complicated. In that case, even rationally the charge of a coisotropic A-brane need not lie in the middle-dimensional cohomology of X. Instead, it takes its value in a certain subspace of ⊕p Hp(X, Q), where the summation is over even or odd p depending on whether the complex dimension of X is even or odd. At the semiclassical level, the subspace is determined by the condition

(L − Λ)α = 0, α ∈ ⊕p Hp(X, Q)

where L and Λ are generators of the Lefschetz SL(2, C) action, i.e., L is the cup product with the cohomology class of the Kähler form, and Λ is its dual.

A Sheaf of Modules is a Geometric Generalization of a Module over a Ring – A Case Derivative of Abelian Closure


A coherent sheaf is a generalization of, on the one hand, a module over a ring, and on the other hand, a vector bundle over a manifold. Indeed, the category of coherent sheaves is the “abelian closure” of the category of vector bundles on a variety.

Given a field which we always take to be the field of complex numbers C, an affine algebraic variety X is the vanishing locus

X = 􏰐(x1,…, xn) : fi(x1,…, xn) = 0􏰑 ⊂ An

of a set of polynomials fi(x1,…, xn) in affine space An with coordinates x1,…, xn. Associated to an affine variety is the ring A = C[X] of its regular functions, which is simply the ring C[x1,…, xn] modulo the ideal ⟨fi⟩ of the defining polynomials. Closed subvarieties Z of X are defined by the vanishing of further polynomials and open subvarieties U = X \ Z are the complements of closed ones; this defines the Zariski topology on X. The Zariski topology is not to be confused with the complex topology, which comes from the classical (Euclidean) topology of Cn defined using complex balls; every Zariski open set is also open in the complex topology, but the converse is very far from being true. For example, the complex topology of A1 is simply that of C, whereas in the Zariski topology, the only closed sets are A1 itself and finite point sets.

Projective varieties X ⊂ Pn are defined similarly. Projective space Pn is the set of lines in An+1 through the origin; an explicit coordinatization is by (n + 1)-tuples

(x0,…, xn) ∈ Cn+1 \ {0,…,0}

identified under the equivalence relation

(x0,…, xn) ∼ (λx0,…, λxn) for λ ∈ C

Projective space can be decomposed into a union of (n + 1) affine pieces (An)i = 􏰐[x0,…, xn] : xi ≠ 0􏰑 with n affine coordinates yj = xj/xi. A projective variety X is the locus of common zeros of a set {fi(x1,…, xn)} of homogeneous polynomials. The Zariski topology is again defined by choosing for closed sets the loci of vanishing of further homogeneous polynomials in the coordinates {xi}. The variety X is covered by the standard open sets Xi = X ∩ (An)i ⊂ X, which are themselves affine varieties. A variety􏰭 X is understood as a topological space with a finite open covering X = ∪i Ui, where every open piece Ui ⊂ An is an affine variety with ring of global functions Ai = C[Ui]; further, the pieces Ui are glued together by regular functions defined on open subsets. The topology on X is still referred to as the Zariski topology. X also carries the complex topology, which again has many more open sets.

Given affine varieties X ⊂ An, Y ⊂ Am, a morphism f : X → Y is given by an m-tuple of polynomials {f1(x1, . . . , xn), . . . , fm(x1, . . . , xn)} satisfying the defining relations of Y. Morphisms on projective varieties are defined similarly, using homogeneous polynomials of the same degree. Morphisms on general varieties are defined as morphisms on their affine pieces, which glue together in a compatible way.

If X is a variety, points P ∈ X are either singular or nonsingular. This is a local notion, and hence, it suffices to define a nonsingular point on an affine piece Ui ⊂ An. A point P ∈ Ui is nonsingular if, locally in the complex topology, a neighbourhood of P ∈ Ui is a complex submanifold of Cn.

The motivating example of a coherent sheaf of modules on an algebraic variety X is the structure sheaf or sheaf of regular functions OX. This is a gadget with the following properties:

  1. On every open set U ⊂ X, we are given an abelian group (or even a commutative ring) denoted OX(U), also written Γ(U, OX), the ring of regular functions on U.
  2. Restriction: if V ⊂ U is an open subset, a restriction map resUV : OX(U) → OX(V) is defined, which simply associates to every regular function f defined over U, the restriction of this function to V. If W ⊂ V ⊂ U are open sets, then the restriction maps clearly satisfy resUW = resVW ◦ resUV.
  3. Sheaf Property: suppose that an open subset U ⊂ X is covered by a collection of open subsets {Ui}, and suppose that a set of regular functions fi ∈ OX(Ui) is given such that whenever Ui and Uj intersect, then the restrictions of fi and fj to Ui ∩ Uj agree. Then there is a unique function f ∈ OX(U) whose restriction to Ui is fi.

In other words, the sheaf of regular functions consists of the collection of regular functions on open sets, together with the obvious restriction maps for open subsets; moreover, this data satisfies the Sheaf Property, which says that local functions, agreeing on overlaps, glue in a unique way to a global function on U.

A sheaf F on the algebraic variety X is a gadget satisfying the same formal properties; namely, it is defined by a collection {F(U)} of abelian groups on open sets, called sections of F over U, together with a compatible system of restriction maps on sections resUV : F(U) → F(V) for V ⊂ U, so that the Sheaf Property is satisfied: sections are locally defined just as regular functions are. But, what of sheaves of OX-modules? The extra requirement is that the sections F(U) over an open set U form a module over the ring of regular functions OX(U), and all restriction maps are compatible with the module structures. In other words, we multiply local sections by local functions, so that multiplication respects restriction. A sheaf of OX-modules is defined by the data of an A-module for every open subset U ⊂ X with ring of functions A = OX(U), so that these modules are glued together compatibly with the way the open sets glue. Hence, a sheaf of modules is indeed a geometric generalization of a module over a ring.

Embedding Branes in Minkowski Space-Time Dimensions To Decipher Them As Particles Or Otherwise


The physics treatment of Dirichlet branes in terms of boundary conditions is very analogous to that of the “bulk” quantum field theory, and the next step is again to study the renormalization group. This leads to equations of motion for the fields which arise from the open string, namely the data (M, E, ∇). In the supergravity limit, these equations are solved by taking the submanifold M to be volume minimizing in the metric on X, and the connection ∇ to satisfy the Yang-Mills equations.

Like the Einstein equations, the equations governing a submanifold of minimal volume are highly nonlinear, and their general theory is difficult. This is one motivation to look for special classes of solutions; the physical arguments favoring supersymmetry are another. Just as supersymmetric compactification manifolds correspond to a special class of Ricci-flat manifolds, those admitting a covariantly constant spinor, supersymmetry for a Dirichlet brane will correspond to embedding it into a special class of minimal volume submanifolds. Since the physical analysis is based on a covariantly constant spinor, this special class should be defined using the spinor, or else the covariantly constant forms which are bilinear in the spinor.

The standard physical arguments leading to this class are based on the kappa symmetry of the Green-Schwarz world-volume action, in which one finds that the subset of supersymmetry parameters ε which preserve supersymmetry, both of the metric and of the brane, must satisfy

φ ≡ Re εt Γε|M = Vol|M —– (1)

In words, the real part of one of the covariantly constant forms on M must equal the volume form when restricted to the brane.

Clearly dφ = 0, since it is covariantly constant. Thus,

Z(M) ≡ ∫φ —– (2)

depends only on the homology class of M. Thus, it is what physicists would call a “topological charge”, or a “central charge”.

If in addition the p-form φ is dominated by the volume form Vol upon restriction to any p-dimensional subspace V ⊂ Tx X, i.e.,

φ|V ≤ Vol|V —– (3)

then φ will be a calibration in the sense of implying the global statement

φ ≤ ∫Vol —– (4)

for any submanifold M . Thus, the central charge |Z (M)| is an absolute lower bound for Vol(M).

A calibrated submanifold M is now one satisfying (1), thereby attaining the lower bound and thus of minimal volume. Physically these are usually called “BPS branes,” after a prototypical argument of this type due, for magnetic monopole solutions in nonabelian gauge theory.

For a Calabi-Yau X, all of the forms ωp can be calibrations, and the corresponding calibrated submanifolds are p-dimensional holomorphic submanifolds. Furthermore, the n-form Re eΩ for any choice of real parameter θ is a calibration, and the corresponding calibrated submanifolds are called special Lagrangian.

This generalizes to the presence of a general connection on M, and leads to the following two types of BPS branes for a Calabi-Yau X. Let n = dimR M, and let F be the (End(E)-valued) curvature two-form of ∇.

The first kind of BPS D-brane, based on the ωp calibrations, is (for historical reasons) called a “B-type brane”. Here the BPS constraint is equivalent to the following three requirements:

  1. M is a p-dimensional complex submanifold of X.
  2. The 2-form F is of type (1, 1), i.e., (E, ∇) is a holomorphic vector bundle on M.
  3. In the supergravity limit, F satisfies the Hermitian Yang-Mills equation:ω|p−1M ∧ F = c · ω|pMfor some real constant c.
  4. F satisfies Im e(ω|M + ils2F)p = 0 for some real constant φ, where ls is the correction.

The second kind of BPS D-brane, based on the Re eΩ calibration, is called an “A-type” brane. The simplest examples of A-branes are the so-called special Lagrangian submanifolds (SLAGs), satisfying

(1) M is a Lagrangian submanifold of X with respect to ω.

(2) F = 0, i.e., the vector bundle E is flat.

(3) Im e Ω|M = 0 for some real constant α.

More generally, one also has the “coisotropic branes”. In the case when E is a line bundle, such A-branes satisfy the following four requirements:

(1)  M is a coisotropic submanifold of X with respect to ω, i.e., for any x ∈ M the skew-orthogonal complement of TxM ⊂ TxX is contained in TxM. Equivalently, one requires ker ωM to be an integrable distribution on M.

(2)  The 2-form F annihilates ker ωM.

(3)  Let F M be the vector bundle T M/ ker ωM. It follows from the first two conditions that ωM and F descend to a pair of skew-symmetric forms on FM, denoted by σ and f. Clearly, σ is nondegenerate. One requires the endomorphism σ−1f : FM → FM to be a complex structure on FM.

(4)  Let r be the complex dimension of FM. r is even and that r + n = dimR M. Let Ω be the holomorphic trivialization of KX. One requires that Im eΩ|M ∧ Fr/2 = 0 for some real constant α.

Coisotropic A-branes carrying vector bundles of higher rank are still not fully understood. Physically, one must also specify the embedding of the Dirichlet brane in the remaining (Minkowski) dimensions of space-time. The simplest possibility is to take this to be a time-like geodesic, so that the brane appears as a particle in the visible four dimensions. This is possible only for a subset of the branes, which depends on which string theory one is considering. Somewhat confusingly, in the type IIA theory, the B-branes are BPS particles, while in IIB theory, the A-branes are BPS particles.

Intuitive Algebra (Groupoid/Categorical Structure) of Open Strings As Morphisms

A geometric Dirichlet brane is a triple (L, E, ∇E) – a submanifold L ⊂ M, carrying a vector bundle E, with connection ∇E.

The real dimension of L is also often brought into the nomenclature, so that one speaks of a Dirichlet p-brane if p = dimRL.

An open string which stretches from a Dirichlet brane (L, E, ∇E) to a Dirichlet brane (K, F, ∇F), is a map X from an interval I ≅ [0,1] to M, such that X(0) ∈ L and X(1) ∈ K. An “open string history” is a map from R into open strings, or equivalently a map from a two-dimensional surface with boundary, say Σ ≡ I × R, to M , such that the two boundaries embed into L and K.


The quantum theory of these open strings is defined by a functional integral over these histories, with a weight which depends on the connections ∇E and ∇F. It describes the time evolution of an open string state which is a wave function in a Hilbert space HB,B′ labelled by the two choices of brane B = (L, E, ∇E) and B′ = (K, F, ∇F).


Distinct Dirichlet branes can embed into the same submanifold L. One way to represent this would be to specify the configurations of Dirichlet branes as a set of submanifolds with multiplicity. However, we can also represent this choice by using the choice of bundle E. Thus, a set of N identical branes will be represented by tensoring the bundle E with CN. The connection is also obtained by tensor product. An N-fold copy of the Dirichlet brane (L, E, ∇E) is thus a triple (L, E ⊗CN, ∇E ⊗ idN).

In physics, one visualizes this choice by labelling each open string boundary with a basis vector of CN, which specifies a choice among the N identical branes. These labels are called Chan-Paton factors. One then uses them to constrain the interactions between open strings. If we picture such an interaction as the joining of two open strings to one, the end of the first to the beginning of the second, we require not only the positions of the two ends to agree, but also the Chan-Paton factors. This operation is the intuitive algebra of open strings.

Mathematically, an algebra of open strings can always be tensored with a matrix algebra, in general producing a noncommutative algebra. More generally, if there is more than one possible boundary condition, then, rather than an algebra, it is better to think of this as a groupoid or categorical structure on the boundary conditions and the corresponding open strings. In the language of groupoids, particular open strings are elements of the groupoid, and the composition law is defined only for pairs of open strings with a common boundary. In the categorical language, boundary conditions are objects, and open strings are morphisms. The simplest intuitive argument that a non-trivial choice can be made here is to call upon the general principle that any local deformation of the world-sheet action should be a physically valid choice. In particular, particles in physics can be charged under a gauge field, for example the Maxwell field for an electron, the color Yang-Mills field for a quark, and so on. The wave function for a charged particle is then not complex-valued, but takes values in a bundle E.

Now, the effect of a general connection ∇E is to modify the functional integral by modifying the weight associated to a given history of the particle. Suppose the trajectory of a particle is defined by a map φ : R → M; then a natural functional on trajectories associated with a connection ∇ on M is simply its holonomy along the trajectory, a linear map from E|φ(t1) to E|φ(t2). The functional integral is now defined physically as a sum over trajectories with this holonomy included in the weight.

The simplest way to generalize this to a string is to consider the ls → 0 limit. Now the constraint of finiteness of energy is satisfied only by a string of vanishingly small length, effectively a particle. In this limit, both ends of the string map to the same point, which must therefore lie on L ∩ K.

The upshot is that, in this limit, the wave function of an open string between Dirichlet branes (L, E, ∇) and (K, F, ∇F) transforms as a section of E ⊠ F over L ∩ K, with the natural connection on the direct product. In the special case of (L, E, ∇E) ≅ (K, F, ∇F), this reduces to the statement that an open string state is a section of EndE. Open string states are sections of a graded vector bundle End E ⊗ Λ•T∗L, the degree-1 part of which corresponds to infinitesimal deformations of ∇E. In fact, these open string states are the infinitesimal deformations of ∇E, in the standard sense of quantum field theory, i.e., a single open string is a localized excitation of the field obtained by quantizing the connection ∇E. Similarly, other open string states are sections of the normal bundle of L within X, and are related in the same way to infinitesimal deformations of the submanifold. These relations, and their generalizations to open strings stretched between Dirichlet branes, define the physical sense in which the particular set of Dirichlet branes associated to a specified background X can be deduced from string theory.

The Only Maximally Extended, Future-directed, Null and Timelike Geodesics in Gödel Spacetime are Confined to a Submanifold. Drunken Risibility.

Let γ1 be any maximally extended, future-directed, null geodesic confined to a submanifold N whose points all have some particular z ̃ value. Let q be any point in N whose r coordinate satisfies sinh2r = (√2 − 1)/2. Pick any point on γ1. By virtue of the homogeneity of Gödel spacetime, we can find a (temporal orientation preserving) global isometry that maps that point to q and maps N to itself. Let γ2 be the image of γ1 under that isometry. We know that at q the vector (t ̃a + kφa) is null if k = 2(1 + √2). So, by virtue of the isotropy of Gödel spacetime, we can find a global isometry that keeps q fixed, maps N to itself, and rotates γ2 onto a new null geodesic γ3 whose tangent vector at q is, at least, proportional to (t ̃a + 2(1 + √2)φa), with positive proportionality factor. If, finally, we reparametrize γ3 so that its tangent vector at q is equal to (t ̃a + 2(1 + √2)φa), then the resultant curve must be a special null geodesic helix through q since (up to a uniform parameter shift) there can be only one (maximally extended) geodesic through q that has that tangent vector there.

The corresponding argument for timelike geodesics is almost the same. Let γ1 this time be any maximally extended, future-directed, timelike geodesic confined to a submanifold N whose points all have some particular z ̃ value. Let v be the speed of that curve relative to t ̃a. (The value as determined at any point must be constant along the curve since it is a geodesic.). Further, let q be any point in N whose r coordinate satisfies √2(sinh2r)/(cosh2r) = v. (We can certainly find such a point since √2 (sinh2r)/(cosh2r) runs through all values between 0 and 1 as r ranges between 0 and rc/2) Now we can proceed in three stages, as before. We map γ1 to a curve that runs through q. Then we rotate that curve so that its tangent vector (at q) is aligned with (t ̃a + kφa) for the appropriate value of k, namely k = 2 √2/(1 − 2 sinh2r). Finally, we reparametrize the rotated curve so that it has that vector itself as its tangent vector at q. That final curve must be one of our special helical geodesics by the uniqueness theorem for geodesics.

The special timelike and null geodesics we started with – the special helices centered on the axis A – exhibit various features. Some are exhibited by all timelike and null geodesics (confined to a z ̃ = constant submanifold); some are not. It is important to keep track of the difference. What is at issue is whether the features can or cannot be captured in terms of gab, t ̃a, and z ̃a (or whether they make essential reference to the coordinates t ̃, r, φ themselves). So, for example, if a curve is parametrized by s, one might take its vertical “pitch” (relative to t ̃) at any point to be given by the value of dt ̃/ds there. Understood this way, the vertical pitch of the special helices centered on A is constant, but that of other timelike and null geodesics is not. For this reason, it is not correct to think of the latter, simply, as “translated” versions of the former. On the other hand, the following is true of all timelike and null geodesics (confined to a z ̃ = constant submanifold). If we project them (via t ̃a) onto a two-dimensional submanifold characterized by constant values for t ̃ as well as z ̃, the result is a circle.

Here is another way to make the point. Consider any timelike or null geodesic γ (confined to a z ̃ = constant submanifold). It certainly need not be centered on the axis A and need not have constant vertical pitch relative to t ̃. But we can always find a (new) axis A′ and a new set of cylindrical coordinates t ̃′, r′, φ′ adapted to A′ such that γ qualifies as a special helical geodesic relative to those coordinates. In particular, it will have constant vertical pitch relative to t ̃′.

Let us now consider all the timelike and null geodesics that pass through some point p (and are confined to a z ̃ = constant submanifold). It may as well be on the original axis A. We can better visualize the possibilities if we direct our attention to the circles that arise after projection (via t ̃a). The figure below shows a two-dimensional submanifold through p on which t ̃ and z ̃ are both constant. The dotted circle has radius rc. Once again, that is the “critical radius” at which the rotational Killing field φa is null. Call this dotted circle the “critical circle.” The circles that pass through p and have radius r = rc/2 are projections of null geodesics. Each shares exactly one point with the critical circle. In contrast, the circles of smaller radius that pass through p are the projections of timelike geodesics. The figure captures one of the claims – namely, that no timelike or null geodesic that passes through a point can “escape” to a radial distance from it greater than rc.


Figure: Projections of timelike and null geodesics in Gödel spacetime. rc is the “critical radius” at which the rotational Killing field φa centered at p is null

Gödel spacetime exhibits a “boomerang effect.” Suppose an individual is at rest with respect to the cosmic source fluid in Gödel spacetime (and so his worldline coincides with some t ̃-line). If that individual shoots a gun at some point, in any direction orthogonal to z ̃a, then, no matter what the muzzle speed of the gun, the bullet will eventually come back and hit him (unless it hits something else first or disintegrates).

Geometry and Localization: An Unholy Alliance? Thought of the Day 95.0


There are many misleading metaphors obtained from naively identifying geometry with localization. One which is very close to that of String Theory is the idea that one can embed a lower dimensional Quantum Field Theory (QFT) into a higher dimensional one. This is not possible, but what one can do is restrict a QFT on a spacetime manifold to a submanifold. However if the submanifold contains the time axis (a ”brane”), the restricted theory has too many degrees of freedom in order to merit the name ”physical”, namely it contains as many as the unrestricted; the naive idea that by using a subspace one only gets a fraction of phase space degrees of freedom is a delusion, this can only happen if the subspace does not contain a timelike line as for a null-surface (holographic projection onto a horizon).

The geometric picture of a string in terms of a multi-component conformal field theory is that of an embedding of an n-component chiral theory into its n-dimensional component space (referred to as a target space), which is certainly a string. But this is not what modular localization reveals, rather those oscillatory degrees of freedom of the multicomponent chiral current go into an infinite dimensional Hilbert space over one localization point and do not arrange themselves according according to the geometric source-target idea. A theory of this kind is of course consistent but String Theory is certainly a very misleading terminology for this state of affairs. Any attempt to imitate Feynman rules by replacing word lines by word sheets (of strings) may produce prescriptions for cooking up some mathematically interesting functions, but those results can not be brought into the only form which counts in a quantum theory, namely a perturbative approach in terms of operators and states.

String Theory is by no means the only area in particle theory where geometry and modular localization are at loggerheads. Closely related is the interpretation of the Riemann surfaces, which result from the analytic continuation of chiral theories on the lightray/circle, as the ”living space” in the sense of localization. The mathematical theory of Riemann surfaces does not specify how it should be realized; if its refers to surfaces in an ambient space, a distinguished subgroup of Fuchsian group or any other of the many possible realizations is of no concern for a mathematician. But in the context of chiral models it is important not to confuse the living space of a QFT with its analytic continuation.

Whereas geometry as a mathematical discipline does not care about how it is concretely realized the geometrical aspects of modular localization in spacetime has a very specific geometric content namely that which can be encoded in subspaces (Reeh-Schlieder spaces) generated by operator subalgebras acting onto the vacuum reference state. In other words the physically relevant spacetime geometry and the symmetry group of the vacuum is contained in the abstract positioning of certain subalgebras in a common Hilbert space and not that which comes with classical theories.


Let (S, CS) and (M, CM) be manifolds of dimension k and n, respectively, with 1 ≤ k ≤ n. A smooth map : S → M is said to be an imbedding if it satisfies the following three conditions.

(I1) Ψ is injective.

(I2) At all points p in S, the associated (push-forward) linear map (Ψp) : Sp → MΨ(p) is injective.

(I3) ∀ open sets O1 in S, Ψ[O1] = [S] ∩ O2 for some open set O2 in M. (Equivalently, the inverse map Ψ−1 : Ψ[S] → S is continuous with respect to the relative topology on [S].)

Several comments about the definition are in order. First, given any point p in S, (I2) implies that (Ψp)[Sp] is a k-dimensional subspace of MΨ(p). So the condition cannot be satisfied unless k ≤ n. Second, the three conditions are independent of one another. For example, the smooth map Ψ : R → R2 defined by (s) = (cos(s), sin(s)) satisfies (I2) and (I3) but is not injective. It wraps R round and round in a circle. On the other hand, the smooth map : R → R defined by (s) = s3 satisfies (I1) and (I3) but is not an imbedding because (Ψ0) : R0 → R0 is not injective. (Here R0 is the tangent space to the manifold R at the point 0). Finally, a smooth map : S → M can satisfy (I1) and (I2) but still have an image that “bunches up on itself.” It is precisely this possibility that is ruled out by condition (I3). Consider, for example, a map : R → R2 whose image consists of part of the image of the curve y = sin(1/x) smoothly joined to the segment {(0, y) : y < 1}, as in the figure below. It satisfies conditions (I1) and (I2) but is not an imbedding because we can find an open interval O1 in R such that given any open set O2 in R2, Ψ[O1] ≠ O2 ∩ Ψ[R].


Suppose(S, CS) and (M, CM) are manifolds with S ⊆ M. We say that (S, CS) is an imbedded submanifold of (M, CM) if the identity map id: S → M is an imbedding. If, in addition, k = n − 1 (where k and n are the dimensions of the two manifolds), we say that (S, CS) is a hypersurface in (M, CM). Let (S, CS) be a k-dimensional imbedded submanifold of the n-dimensional manifold (M, CM), and let p be a point in S. We need to distinguish two senses in which one can speak of “tensors at p.” There are tensors over the vector space Sp (call them S-tensors at p) and ones over the vector space Mp (call them M-tensors at p). So, for example, an S-vector ξ ̃a at p makes assignments to maps of the form f ̃: O ̃ → R where O ̃ is a subset of S that is open in the topology induced by CS, and f ̃ is smooth relative to CS. In contrast, an M-vector ξa at p makes assignments to maps of the form f : O → R where O is a subset of M that is open in the topology induced by CM, and f is smooth relative to CM. Our first task is to consider the relation between S-tensors at p and M-tensors there.

Let us say that ξa ∈ (Mp)a is tangent to S if ξa ∈ (idp)[(Sp)a]. (This makes sense. We know that (idp)[(Sp)a] is a k-dimensional subspace of (Mp)a; ξa either belongs to that subspace or it does not.) Let us further say that ηa in (Mp)a is normal to S if ηaξa =0 ∀ ξa ∈ (Mp)a that are tangent to S. Each of these classes of vectors has a natural vector space structure. The space of vectors ξa ∈ (Mp)a tangent to S has dimension k. The space of co-vectors ηa ∈ (Mp)a normal to S has dimension (n − k).

Diffeomorphic Lift


Let G be a connected and simply connected Lie group, Γ ⊂ G an arbitrary totally disconnected subgroup. While it is possible to develop a general theory of fibre bundles and covering spaces in the diffeological setting, we shall directly prove some lifting properties for the quotient map π : G → G/Γ.

Lifting of diffeomorphisms: The factor space G/Γ is endowed with the quotient diffeology, that is the collection of plots α: U → G/Γ which locally lift through π to a smooth map U → G.

Proposition: Any differentiable map (in the diffeological sense) φ : G/Γ → G/Γ has a sooth lift φ : G → G, that is a C∞ map such that πφ = φπ.

Proof. By definition of quotient diffeology, the result is locally true, that is for any x ∈ G there exists an open neighbourhood Ux and a smooth map φx : Ux → G such that π ◦ φx = φ ◦ π on Ux. We can suppose that Ux is a connected open set.

Now we define an integrable distribution D on G × G in the following way. Since an arbitrary point (x, g) ∈ G × G can be written as (x, φx(x)h) for some h ∈ G, let

D(x,g) = {(v,(Rh ◦ φx)∗x(v)): v ∈ TxG} ⊂ T(x,g)(G × G).

The distribution D is well defined because two local lifts differ by some translation. In fact, let x, y ∈ G such that Ux ∩ Uy ≠ ∅. Then for any z ∈ Ux ∩ Uy and any connected neighbourhood Vz ⊂ Ux ∩ Uy, the local lifts φx, φy define the continuous map γ : Vz → Γ given by γ(t) = φx(t)−1φy(t). Since Vz is connected and the set Γ is totally disconnected, the map γ must be constant, hence φy = Rγ ◦ φx.

Moreover D has constant rank, and it is integrable, the integral submanifolds being translations of the graphs of the local lifts.

Let us choose some point x0 ∈ G such that [x0] = φ([e]), and let G~ be the maximal integral submanifold passing through (e, x0). We shall prove that the projection of G ⊂ G × G onto the first factor is a covering map. Since G is simply connected, it follows that G is the graph of a global lift.

Lemma: The projection p1: G~ ⊂ G × G → G is a covering map.

Proof. Clearly p1 is a differentiable submersion, hence an open map, so p1(G) is an open subspace of G. Let us prove that it is closed too; this will show that the map p1 : G~ → G is onto, because the Lie group G is connected.

Suppose x ∈ G is in the closure of p1(G), and let Ux be a connected open neighbourhood where the local lift φx is defined. Let y ∈ Ux ∩ p1(G), then (y, φx(y)h) ∈ G for some h ∈ G. This implies that the graph of Rh ◦ φx, which is an integral submanifold of D, is contained in G . Hence x ∈ p1(G).

It remains to prove that any x ∈ G has a neighbourhood Ux such that (p1)−1(Ux) is a disjoint union of open sets, each one homeomorphic to Ux by p1. It is clear that we can restrict ourselves to the case x = e. Let φe : Ue → G be a connected local lift of φ. We can suppose that φe(e) = x0.

Let U~e be its graph. Then U~e is an open subset of G~, containing (e, x0), with p1(U~e) = Ue. Let I be the non-empty set

I = {γ ∈Γ : (e,x0γ) ∈ G~} .

Then (p1)−1(U) is the disjoint union of the sets Rγ(U~e), γ ∈ I.

Corollary: Any diffeomorphism of G/Γ can be lifted to a diffeomorphism of G.

Corollary: Let U be a connected simply connected open subset of Rn, n ≥ 0. Any differentiable map (resp. diffeomorphism) U × G/Γ → U × G/Γ can be lifted to a C∞ map (resp. diffeomorphism) U × G → U × G.