The WZW functional for a map from a surface to a Lie group has a role in the theory of harmonic maps, and it also arises as the determinant of a d-bar operator on the surface, as the action functional for a 2-dimensional quantum field theory, as the partition function of 3-dimensional Chern-Simons theory on a manifold with boundary, and as the norm-squared of a state-vector. It is intimately related to the quantization of the symplectic manifold of flat bundles on the surface, a fascinating test-case for different approaches to geometric quantization. It is also interesting as an example of interpolation between commutative and noncommutative geometry. I shall try to give an overview of the area, focussing on the aspects which are still not well understood.
- Relativity Seminar