It was discovered in the 1970s that black holes are thermodynamic objects carrying entropy, thus suggesting that they are really an ensemble of microscopic states. This idea has been realized in a remarkable manner in string theory, wherein one can describe these ensembles in a class of models. These ensembles are known, however, to contain configurations other than isolated black holes, and it remains an outstanding problem to precisely isolate a black hole in the microscopic ensemble. I will describe how this problem can be solved completely in N=4 string theory. The solution involves surprising relations to mock modular forms -- a class of functions first discovered by S. Ramanujan about 95 years ago.
- String Theory Seminar