Vertex operator algebras, Higgs branches, and modular differential equations


Beem, C
Rastelli, L

Publication Date: 

21 August 2018


Journal of High Energy Physics

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Every four-dimensional N=2 superconformal field theory comes equipped with an intricate algebraic invariant, the associated vertex operator algebra. The relationships between this invariant and more conventional protected quantities in the same theories have yet to be completely understood. In this work, we aim to characterize the connection between the Higgs branch of the moduli space of vacua (as an algebraic geometric entity) and the associated vertex operator algebra. Ultimately our proposal is simple, but its correctness requires the existence of a number of nontrivial null vectors in the vacuum Verma module of the vertex operator algebra. Of particular interest is one such null vector whose presence suggests that the Schur index of any N=2 SCFT should obey a finite order modular differential equation. By way of the “high temperature” limit of the superconformal index, this allows the Weyl anomaly coefficient a to be reinterpreted in terms of the representation theory of the associated vertex operator algebra. We illustrate these ideas in a number of examples including a series of rank-one theories associated with the “Deligne-Cvitanović exceptional series” of simple Lie algebras, several families of Argyres-Douglas theories, an assortment of class S theories, and N=2 super Yang-Mills with su(n) gauge group for small-to-moderate values of n.

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Journal Article