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Consistent superstrings

We have found three tachyon free and


non-anomalous superstring theories
Type IIA
Type IIB
Type I SO(32)
Interactions

The natural way to introduce interactions in string theory is the


Feynman path integral.

Amplitudes are given by summing over all possible histories


interpolating between initial and final states.

Each history is weighted by eiScl /h


Amplitudes are defined summing
over all world-sheets connecting
initial and final curves
Basic string interactions

The only ineractions allowed are those that are


already implicit in the sum over world-sheets:
one string decaying into two or two strings
merging into one.

These are the basic interactions.


All particle interactions are obtained
as states of excitation of the string and all interactions arise
from the single processes of the figures
Always a free theory

There is no distinguished point where the interaction occurs. The


interaction arises only from the global topology of the world-sheet and the
local properties of the world-sheet are as in the free theory.

It is this smearing of the interaction that cuts off the short distance
divergencies of gravity.
Sum over topologies
Interactions
Scattering amplitudes

The idea to sum over all world-sheets bounded by initial and final curves
seems natural. But it is difficult to define it consistently with the local world-
sheet symmetries and the resulting amplitudes are rather complicated.

There is one special case where the amplitudes simplify: the limit when the
sources are taken to infinity

Scattering amplitude: an S-matrix element with incoming and outgoing


strings specified.

Most string calculations confine to S-matrix computations and are on-shell.


Conformal invariance

So we consider processes where the sources are pulled to infinity,


like

Each of the incoming and outgoing legs is a long cylinder which can
be described with a complex coordinate
w= + i 2 Im w 0 , w w 2
The limit corresponding to the scattering process is
Conformally equivalent description

The cylinder has a conformally equivalent description in


terms of a coord. z exp( iw) , exp( 2 ) | z | 1

In this picture the long cylinder is mapped into the unit disk

In the limit the tiny


circles shrink to points
and the world-sheet reduces
to a sphere with a point-like
insertion for each external
state.
Four ways to define the sum over
world-sheets

There are different string theories, depending on which


topologies we include in the sum over world-sheets:

Closed oriented: all oriented world-sheets without


boundary
Closed unoriented: All world-sheets without boundary
Closed + open oriented: All oriented world-sheets with
any number of boundaries
Closed + open unoriented: All world-sheets with any
number of boundaries.
Perturbative expansion

Sum over compact topologies in the closed string

+ + +

S2 T2
In the open string we sum over surfaces with
boundaries

D2
C2
Vertex operators

To a given incoming or outgoing string mode with p


and internal state j there corresponds a local operator
Vj(p) determined by the limiting process: vertex operator

This is the state-operator mapping.

An n-particle S-matrix element is then given by


n
[dXdg ]
S j1 ... jn ( p1 ,..., pn )
compact Vdiff W eyl
exp( S X ) d 2 i g ( i )1/ 2V ji ( pi , i )
i 1
topologies
Euler number

Perturbative expansion in genus


n
[dXdg ]
S j1 ... jn ( p1 ,..., pn )
compact Vdiff W eyl
exp( S X ) d 2 i g ( i )1/ 2V ji ( pi , i )
i 1
topologies

SX refers to the action without gauge fixing

One has to divide by the volume of the symmetry group


this is the origin of the ghosts in the theory.

In the bosonic string these are the anticommuting bc ghosts of


reparametrizations; here there will be commuting ghosts of susy ,

Finally the vertex operators create physical states


Thus the scattering amplitudes are expectation values of a product of
vertex operators.
Four-point tachyon interaction
Properties
Information about the spectrum
High-energy behavior

The exponential fall-off is much faster than the amplitude of any


field theory, which fall off with power law decay and diverge.
The infinite number of particles in string theory conspire to render
Finite any divergence arising from an individual particle species.

Low energy limit supergravity, SYM


One loop surfaces

At one loop there are four Riemann surfaces with Euler number
zero.

The torus is the only closed oriented surface with Euler number
zero.
If we include unoriented surfaces we have also the Klein bottle for
the closed string (two crosscaps).
In the open string we have surfaces with boundaries: the cylinder
and the Mobius strip.
The torus amplitude
We now compute the simplest one-loop amplitude in the closed
oriented string theory: the partition function or vacuum amplitude.

There is a great deal of physics in the amplitude with no physical


operators. Essentially it determines the full perturbative spectrum:
1 T 2 Z ( )
The possibility to assign to the world-sheet fermions periodic or
antiperiodic boundary conditions leads to the concept of spin
structures.

The GSO projection is then shown to be the geometric constraint


of modular invariance.
The torus

To describe a torus we need to identify two periods.


Alternatively we can cut the torus along the two cycles and map it
to the plane.
w

Thus we describe it as the complex plane with metric


ds 2 dwd w and identitications w w 2 w 2
Gauge fixing

We wrote the S-matrix as a path integral. We now


want to reduce the path integral to gauge-fixed form.

We would like to choose one configuration from each


(diff Weyl)-equivalent set.

Locally we did this by fixing gab= ab (and a), but


globally there is a mismatch between the space of
metrics and the world-sheet gauge group.

Let us look at the equivalent situation for the point


particle.
The circle

Consider de path integral:

1 1

2
De DX exp 2 d e X X e m
Take a path forming a closed loop in spacetime, so the topology is a circle.
The parameter can be taken to run from 0 to 1 with the end points
identified that is X() and e() are periodic on 0 1.

The tetrad e() has one component and there is one local symmetry, the
choice of parameter enough symmetry to fix the tetrad
The periodicity is not preserved
by the gauge choice

The tetrad transforms as ed = e d

The gauge choice e=1 then gives a differential equation for ():

'
e( )

Integrating this with the boundary condition (0) = 0 determines

' ( ) d " e( " )
0

The complication is that in general (1) 1 so the periodicity is not


preserved. In fact 1
' (1) d " e( " ) l
0

is the invariant length of the circle.


Two possibilities

So we cannot simultaneously set e=1 and keep the coordinate region


fixed.

We can hold the coordinate region fixed and set e to the constant value
e=l or set e=1 and let the coordinate region vary:

e' l , 0 1
e' 1 , 0 l
In either case, after fixing the gauge invariance we are left with an
ordinary integral over l.

Not all tetrads on the circle are diff-equivalent. There is a one parameter
family of inequivalent tetrads parametrized by l.
The torus

Both descriptions have analogs in the string.

Take the torus with coordinate region

0 0 1 , 0 1 1
with X(0,1) and gab(0,1) periodic in both directions.

Equivalently we can think of this as the plane with the identification of


points
( 0 , 1 ) ( 0 , 1 ) (m, n)
for integer m and n.

To what extent is the field space diff Weyl redundant?


Two possibilities on the torus

Theorem: it is not possible to bring a general metric to unit form by a diff


Weyl transformation that leaves invariant the periodicity,
0 0 1 , 0 1 1
But it is possible to bring it to the form

ds 2 | d 1 d 0 |2
where is a complex const. For = i this would be ab.

Alternatively one can take the flat metric. By coordinate and Weyl
transformations we can keep the metric flat but it is not guaranteed that this
will leave the periodicity unchanged. Rather we may have
with general translation vectors ua and va. ~ a ~ ~ a (mu a nv a )
The parallelogram

By rotating and rescaling the coordinate system accompanied by a shift


in the Weyl factor we can always set u=(1,0).

This leaves two parameters, the components of v.

Thus defining w ~1 i~ 0 the metric is ds dwd w


2

and the periodicity is w w ( m n ) where


= v1+i v0. The torus is now the parallelogram in the w plane with periodic
boundary conditions

w
The square

Alternatively we can define w 1 0


The original periodicity ( , ) ( , ) (m, n)
1 0 1 0

is preserved but the metric takes the more general form


ds 2 | d 1 d 0 |2
The integration over
1
metrics reduces to two
ordinary integrals over
the real and imaginary 1
parts of .

The metric is invariant under complex conjugation of , so we can restrict


attention to Im > 0.
The modular group

As in the case of the circle we can put these parameters either in the
metric or the periodicity.

The parameter is known as a modulus or Teichmuller parameter.

There is some additional redundance that does not have an analogue in


the point particle case. The value +1 generates the same set of
identifications as w ~ w ( m n ) replacing (m, n) (mn, n).

And so does 1/ , replacing (m, n) (n,m). Repeated application of


these two transformations
T: = +1,
a b
S: = 1/ generate ' , a, b, c, d Z , ad bc 1
c d
The fundamental region

Using the modular transformations it can be shown that every is


equivalent to exactly one point in the region
1 1
F0 : Re , | | 1
2 2
This is called the fundamental region and it is one representation
of the moduli space of (diff Weyl)-inequivalent metrics.

F0


The partition function

~
Tr q L0 q
d / 24 L0
Z ( ) (qq)


d 2 1 L0 1 ( L~0 1)
ZT tr q q
F0 2 12
2 2
The partition function of a scalar field

In a field theory in D dimensions, for which


1 1 2 2
S d x M
D

2 2
The path integral defines the vacuum energy Z as


e Z D e S E ~ det 1/ 2 M 2
Using the identity log(det( A))

dt
t

tr e tA
where is an ultraviolet cutoff and t a Schwinger parameter, we find

V dt

t M 2
Z e
2(4 ) D / 2 t D / 2 1
The partition function of the bosonic string

Apply this formula to the closed bosonic string in D=26, whose spectrum
is encoded in
M
2 2 ~ L0 L 0 2
'
subject to the constraint L0 L~0


1/ 2
V dt
2
t L0 L~0 2
2i ( L0 L~0 ) s
Z ds 14 tr e
'
e
2(4 )13 1/ 2 t

where we have introduced the -function constraint.


t
Define the complex Schwinger parameter 1 i 2 s i
2i 2i
'
and let
qe , qe
The partition function of the bosonic string

Then we can write


d

1/ 2
V L0 1 ( L~0 1)
Z d 2
tr q q
2(4 ' )
2 13
1/ 2
1
14
2

As we have seen, at one-loop a closed string sweeps a torus, whose


Teichmuller parameter is naturally identified with the complex Schwinger
parameter.

But not all values of correspond to distinct torii. We have to restrict the
integration to F0 and this introduces an effective cutoff. After a final rescaling,
the partition function is


d 2 1 L0 1 ( L~0 1)
ZT tr q q
F0 2 12
2 2
GRACIAS!
Modular invariance

This expression is modular covariant


1
ZT ( 1, 1) ZT ( , ) , ZT ( 1 , ) | |2 ZT ( , )

so that its transformations compensate those of the


measure.
Recall the explicit expression for the vacuum amplitude in
~
the bosonic string. Recall that L0 , L0 are number operators
for two infinite sets of harmonic oscillators.
For each spacetime dimension L0 : n n :
n
And for each n: n n 1
tr q 1 q q ...
n 2n

1 qn
The bosonic vacuum amplitude

Putting all these contributions together, the full spectrum


gives


d 2 1 1
ZT
F0 2 12 | ( ) |48
2 2

where ( ) q (1 q )
1 / 24 n
is the Dedekind function.
n 1

It is evident that ZT(,) contains the information about


the number of states of each mass level.
Divergent cosmological constant

Expanding Z(,) in powers of q one gets a power


series of the form ij q where dij is the number of
i j
d q
states with m2 = i and m2 = j.

The first few terms of the expansion are


1
ZT ( , ) ~| ( ) |48 2
576 ...
|q|
The first term corresponds to the negative (mass)2
tachyon and the constant term to the massless string
states (graviton, dilaton and antisymmetric tensor).
Due to the tachyon pole, the one-loop cosmological
constant for the closed bosonic string is infinite.
ZT for the superstring

The four possible boundary conditions for fermions lead


to four spin structures
( 1 1, 0 ) ( 1 , 0 )
( 1 , 0 1) ( 1 , 0 )
Recall that periodic boundary conditions in 1 correspond
to the R sector and antiperiodic boundary conditions to
the NS sector.
The boundary conditions may be separately periodic or
antiperiodic in the 1 and 0 directions.
We denote the spin structure with periodic b.c. in 0 and
antiperiodic b.c. in 1 by +

S transformation on spin structures

Under an S transformation with modular matrix


0 1
S : ( 1 , 0 ) ( 0 , 1 )
1 0
that is, basically 1 and 0 are exchanged. This means
that the fermions transform as
( 1 , 0 ) ' ( 1 , 0 ) ( 0 , 1 )
From this we easily derive the action of S on the spin
structures: () ()
S : () () () ()
() ()
T transformation on spin structures

Similarly, under + 1 the torus transforms as


+1

Which leads to the following action of T on the spin


structures:
() ()
T : () () () ()
() ()
2i H
Computing Tr e

Loop amplitudes contain the factor Tr e 2i H for


propagation through imaginary time

It is essential to remember now that in the path integral


formulation of quantum statistical mechanics, the partition
function of the fermions is computed using antiperiodic b.c.
2i H
in time Tr e is represented by path integral
with antiperiodic () b.c. in 0.

Therefore in the absence of GSO projection, the contribution


of the NS sector to a loop amplitude corresponds to ( )
while the contribution of the R sector corresponds to (+ )
Modular invariance

The combination of partition functions ( ) and (+ ) is


not modular invariant. To get a modular invariant
theory, they must be supplemented by ( +)
() ()
S : () () () ()
() ()

() ()
T : () () () ()
() ()
Correlator for fermions

But ( +) is a partition function for NS states ( b.c. in 1)


with an insertion of (1)F (+ b.c. in 0)
The periodicity conditions in time are rather unusual in
the context of field theory, but they may be expressed as
conditions on correlation functions on the torus.
Consider a generic correlation function for fermions
( 1 , 0 )
where stands for the product of an odd number of
fermion fields at various positions, so that the correlator is
nonzero (correlator of odd number of fermions is zero
since they are Grassmann numbers).
Take this fermion from its position 0 to 0 + 1.
Periodic boundary conditions

Within the operator formalism this means that will go


through all possible instants of time and will have to be
passed over all the other fermions in in succession,
because of the time ordering.
Since a minus sign is generated each time, there will be an
overall factor of 1 generated by this translation, and
therefore the usual correspondence between the path
integral and the Hamiltonian approach leads naturally to
the antiperiodic condition when the theory is defined on a
torus.
To implement the periodic condition we need to modify the
usual correspondence by inserting an operator that
anticommutes with (1)F
F 2i H
Computing Tr (1) e

If we want to compute Tr (1) F e2i H where (1)F


is the operator used in the GSO projection that counts
the number of world-sheet fermions modulo 2, then we
must use the + b.c. in the 0 direction.
Partition function in all sectors

To make sure that this feature is built into the partition


function we simply insert (1)F in the definition of the
partition function within the trace in the time-periodic case
This prescription implies the following expessions for the
holomorphic part of ZT ( are phasesmodular inv.)
Z ( ) ( ) ( ) TrNS [q H ]
Z ( ) ( ) ( ) TrNS [exp( i F )q H ]
Z ( ) ( ) ( ) TrR [q H ]
Z ( ) ( ) ( ) TrR [exp( i F )q H ]
Computing the trace
The calcultation is completely analogous to the
bosonic case only that the occupation numbers are
now restricted by the Pauli principle to Nr = 0 and 1.
For the fermionic oscillators we have
r i r ri

Tr q r 1
Tr q r i r ri
(1 q r )8
r r

since the Pauli exclusion principle allows at most one


fermion in each of these states. For a given fermionic
mode there are only two states
Tr q r r r 1 q r , Tr (1) F q r r r 1 q r
This expression actually applies to both NS and R
sectors, provided r is turned into an integer for R.
Jacobi theta functions

Therefore we can write


4

1/ 24


q 1/ 6 1 q
r 1 / 2 8
q r 1
(1 q ) (1 q ) (1 q
r 4 r 1/ 2 8
)
r 1 r 1 r 1
34 (0 | )

4 ( )
3 is one of the four Jacobi theta functions, defined as
1
2

1 q

(0 | ) ( ) e 2i q 2 24 r 1 / 2
e 2i 1 q r 1/ 2 e 2i
r 1

exp i
( r ) 2
2 i (r )
r
-functions boundary conditions

Through the one-loop partition function the functions


for arbitrary and are in correspondence to the b.c.
for fermions 2i
( 1, ) e
1 0 1
( , )
0

( 1 , 0 1) e 2i ( 1 , 0 )
The different spin structures then correspond to
1 / 2 0
() 1 / 2 1 ; () 0 3
1 / 2 0
1 / 2 0
() 1 / 2, 0 2 ; () 0, 1 / 2 4
0 1 / 2
Riemann theta identities

The Jacobi theta functions and their generalization to


higher genus Riemann surfaces play an important role in
string theory. They satisfy many amazing identities.
At one-loop one of the most important ones is
(0 | ) (0 | ) ( 0 | ) 0
4
2
4
3
4
4

It is easy to see that


1 0 | 0
In the same way that we have derived the partition
function for the ( ) spin structure we can easily derive
the rest.
The fermion partition function

The partition functions for different spin structures are


34 (0 | )
Z ( ) ( ) ( )
4 ( )
44 (0 | )
Z ( ) ( ) ( )
4 ( )
42 (0 | )
Z ( ) ( ) ( )
4 ( )
14 (0 | )
Z ( ) ( ) ( ) 0
( )
4
Determining the phases

First require that the spin structure sum is modular


invariant separately both in the right and left moving
sectors.
Since only the relative phases are relevant we
3 (0 | )
4
arbitrarily set () = 1, i.e. Z ( )
( )
4 ( )
Using the transformation rules of the theta and eta
4
(0 | ) i / 3
functions we find Z ( ) ( 1) Z ( ) ( ) 4 4 e
( )
The eight transverse bosonic degrees of freedom
contribute () which gives an extra factor of e2i/3
(+) = 1. Similarly we can show that (+ ) = 1
Spacetime supersymmetry

(+ +) cannot be determined from modular invariance


So finally
Z ( ) Tr e 2i H
1
2

1 (1) F 1 Tr e 2i H 1 ( ) (1) F
NS
1
2
R

( ) 4 34 (0 | ) 44 (0 | ) 42 (0 | ) ( ) 14 (0 | )
1
2
The relative sign between the two sectors reflects the
fact that states in NS are bosons and in R are fermions
The factor in the NS sector is just the GSO projection
(1)F = +1 .
Due to the Riemann identity and the vanishing of 1(0),
the partition function vanishes. This reflects a
supersymmetric spectrum: the contributions from
spacetime bosons and fermions cancel
Modular invariance
There is another modular invariant combination of
boundary conditions: summing over left and right
movers with the same b.c.

This leads to Z ( ) Tr e 2i H NS 2i H~ NS 1 1 (1) F F~
2

Tr e
~ 1
2i H R 2i H R

2

1 ( ) (1) F F~

Including the contribution from the bosons we get
1

ZT ( , ) (Im ) 4 ( ) 24 | 2 (0 | ) |8 | 3 (0 | ) |8 | 4 (0 | ) |8
2

This theory has only spacetime bosons and contains a
tachyon. The GSO projection in NS allows the tachyon.