As we have learned over the last 10 years, many exact results for various observables in three-dimensional N=2 supersymmetric theories can be extracted from the computation of "supersymmetric partition functions" on curved three-manifold M_3, for instance on M_3= S^3 the three-sphere. Typically, such computations must be carried anew for each M_3 one might want to consider, and the technical difficulties mounts as the topology of M_3 gets more involved. In this talk, I will explain a different approach that allows us to compute the partition function on "almost" any half-BPS geometry. The basic idea is to relate different topologies by the insertion of certain half-BPS line defects, the "geometry-changing line operators." I will also explain how our formalism can be related to the Beem-Dimofte-Pasquetti holomorphic blocks. [Talk based on a paper to appear in a week, with Heeyeon Kim and Brian Willett.]

# Past String Theory Seminar

In the late 1880's Goursat investigated what we now call rigid local systems, classically described as linear differential equations without accessory parameters. In this talk I will discuss some arithmetic and geometric aspects of certain particular cases of Goursat's in rank four. For example, I will discuss what are likely to be all cases where the monodromy group is finite. This is joint work with Danylo Radchenko.

3d N=2 Chern-Simons-matter theories have a large variety of boundary conditions that preserve 2d N=(0,2) supersymmetry, and support chiral algebras. I'll discuss some examples of how the chiral algebras transform across dualities. I'll then explain how to construct duality interfaces in 3d N=2 theories, and relate dualities *of* duality interfaces to "Pachner moves" in triangulations of 4-manifolds. Based on recent and upcoming work with K. Costello, D. Gaiotto, and N. Paquette.

The coefficients of the low energy expansion of closed string amplitudes transform as automorphic functions under En(Z) U-duality groups.

The seminar will give an overview of some features of the coefficients of low order terms in this expansion, which involve a fascinating interplay between multiple zeta values and certain elliptic and hyperelliptic generalisations, Langlands Eisenstein series for the En groups, and the ultraviolet behaviour of maximally supersymmetric supergravity.

I will summarise old and recent developments on the classification and solution of Rational Conformal Field Theories in 2 dimensions using the method of Modular Differential Equations. Novel and exotic theories are found with small numbers of characters and simple fusion rules, one of these being the Baby Monster CFT. Correlation functions for many of these theories can be computed using crossing-symmetric differential equations.

The central charges “c” and “a” in two and four dimensional conformal field theories (CFTs) have a central organizing role in our understanding of quantum field theory (QFT) more generally. Appearing as coefficients of curvature invariants in the anomalous trace of the stress tensor, they constrain the possible relationships between QFTs under renormalization group flow. They provide important checks for dualities between different CFTs. They even have an important connection to a measure of quantum entanglement, the entanglement entropy. Less well known is that additional central charges appear when there is a boundary, four new coefficients in total in three and four dimensional boundary CFTs. While largely unstudied, these boundary charges hold out the tantalizing possibility of being as important in the classification of quantum field theory as the bulk central charges “a” and “c”. I will show how these charges can be computed from displacement operator correlation functions. I will also demonstrate a boundary conformal field theory in four dimensions with an exactly marginal coupling where these boundary charges depend on the marginal coupling. The talk is based on arXiv:1707.06224, arXiv:1709.07431, as well as work to appear shortly.

Suppose A is a nice abelian category (such as coherent sheaves coh(X) on a smooth complex projective variety X, or representations mod-CQ of a quiver Q) or T is a nice triangulated category (such as D^bcoh(X) or D^bmod-CQ) over C. Let M be the moduli stack of objects in A or T. Consider the homology H_*(M) over some ring R.

Given a little extra data on M, for which there are natural choices in our examples, I will explain how to define the structure of a graded vertex algebra on H_*(M). By a standard construction, one can then define a graded Lie algebra from the vertex algebra; roughly speaking, this is a Lie algebra structure on the homology H_*(M^{pl}) of a "projective linear” version M^{pl} of the moduli stack M.

For example, if we take T = D^bmod-CQ, the vertex algebra H_*(M) is the lattice vertex algebra attached to the dimension vector lattice Z^{Q_0} of Q with the symmetrized intersection form. The degree zero part of the graded Lie algebra contains the associated Kac-Moody algebra.

The construction appears to be new, but is connected with a lot of work in Geometric Representation Theory, to do with Ringel-Hall-type algebras and their representations, such as the results of Grojnowski-Nakajima on Hilbert schemes. The vertex algebra construction is enormously general, and applies in huge classes of examples. There is a differential-geometric version too.

The question I am hoping someone in the audience will answer is this: what is the physical interpretation of these vertex algebras?

It is in some sense an "even Calabi-Yau” construction: when applied to coh(X) or D^bcoh(X), it is most natural for X a Calabi-Yau 2-fold or Calabi-Yau 4-fold, and is essentially trivial for X a Calabi-Yau 3-fold. I discovered it when I was investigating wall-crossing for Donaldson-Thomas type invariants for Calabi-Yau 4-folds. So perhaps one should look for an explanation in the physics of Calabi-Yau 2-folds or 4-folds, with M the moduli space of boundary conditions for the associated SCFT.

I will overview my research for a general math audience.

First I will present the biological questions and motivate why systems biology needs computational algebraic biology and topological data analysis. Then I will present the mathematical methods I've developed to study these biological systems. Throughout I will provide examples.

I will review the concept of duality in quantum systems from the 2D Ising model to superconformal field theories in higher dimensions. Using some of these latter theories, I will explain how a generalized concept of duality emerges: these are dualities not between full theories but between algebraically well-defined sub-sectors of strikingly different theories.

Breakthroughs in machine learning have led to impressive results in numerous fields in recent years. I will review some of the best-known results on the computer science side, provide simple ways to think about the associated techniques, discuss possible applications in string theory, and present some applications in string theory where they already exist. One promising direction is using machine learning to generate conjectures that are then proven by humans as theorems. This method, sometimes referred to as intelligible AI, will be exemplified in an enormous ensemble of F-theory geometries that will be featured throughout the talk.