Simons Center Program on String Compactification

Simons Center Program on String Compactification

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Spring 2012

Program Description. In 1985, it was shown by Candelas et al that
compactification of the heterotic string on a Calabi-Yau manifold could lead to
models similar to the Standard Model of particle physics, and `beyond the
Standard Model’ extensions such as grand unification and supersymmetry. Over
the subsequent 25 years, major advances in our understanding of string theory
have led to new types of compactification: compactification with branes, M theory
on G2 manifolds, F theory on Calabi-Yau fourfolds, flux compactification; to a
revolutionary new understanding of nonperturbative physics founded on duality
and supersymmetry; and to models which can match the details of the Standard
Model and which have suggested all sorts of novel physics testable at colliders
and in cosmological and astroparticle observation, such as large extra
dimensions, black hole production, new types of cosmic string, new types of
inflation and so on. String compactification is also the source of many points of
contact between string theory and mathematics, such as mirror symmetry.

This program will cover all of the currently active topics in string compactification,
including the development of compactifications based on algebraic geometry
(type II and heterotic strings on Calabi-Yau and orientifolds; F theory);
compactifications based on generalized geometry (flux compactifications, B-field
and asymmetric compactifications); compactifications based on special
holonomy (G2 manifolds), and truly string theoretic constructions based on
conformal field theory or gauge-gravity duality. Physical problems of current
interest will be discussed such as matching the Standard Model, realizing moduli
stabilization and supersymmetry breaking, and making contact with inflationary
and quantum cosmology. The whole area is rich in connections with
mathematics, both developed and potential, and the center will try to stimulate
this interaction to the fullest.

We envision several workshops and focus periods devoted to some of these
topics, including one on F theory, one on mathematical methods for string
theorists, and a workshop introducing mathematicians to the subject.