Hello. As you probably know, one of the activities at the Institute
for Advanced Study this coming year is a special program on quantum
field theory. This program will feature a series of lectures designed
to teach mathematicians how physicists think about some of the fundamental
tools of their subject. We thought it would be useful to accompany the
lecture series with some kind of "study group": an informal meeting
once or twice a week during which the lectures could be discussed by
the participants in this special program. The goal (for us at least)
is to really learn this stuff, not just let it float by in a lecture
setting.
We are writing to a group of the 1996-97 members in the School of Math
which we hope includes everyone who might be interested in this study
group. We want to get the group organized now, so that we can "hit the
ground running". We also want to find out when the group members are
planning to arrive in Princeton, so that we can advise Deligne, Kazhdan
and Witten about the scheduling of the lectures. The first series of
lectures will be delivered by Joseph Bernstein, on super-geometry
(how to write Lagrangians with fermionic variables). Bernstein will be
in Princeton Sept. 1 - Oct. 15, and there has been some discussion of
starting his lectures on Sept. 16, or perhaps even earlier.
Undoubtedly there are some people receiving this who are not interested;
if that applies to you, please ignore the message. If you *are* interested
in the special program and this study group, please send a brief reply to
that effect, also mentioning when you plan to arrive in Princeton.
We realize that a few of you won't arrive until the spring
semester; nevertheless, you might wish to remain on this mailing list
to be apprised of what is going on.
For those who haven't seen it, we append to the end of this message a
letter sent by MacPherson last December which describes the goals and
aims of the program. (Of course the last few paragraphs are now obsolete.)
We look forward to seeeing you in the fall.
Dave Morrison and Dan Freed
Letter of December 15, 1995 from R. MacPherson:
Dear Colleagues,
The Institute for Advanced Study will have a special program during the
academic year 1996-97 on quantum field theory, directed by P. Deligne, D.
Kazhdan and E. Witten. It will be sponsored jointly by the School of
Mathematics and the School of Natural Sciences.
The goal is to create and convey an understanding, in terms congenial to
mathematicians, of some fundamental notions of physics, such as quantum
field theory, supersymmetry and string theory. The emphasis will be on
developing the intuition stemming from functional integrals.
One way to define the goals of the program is by negation, excluding certain
important subjects commonly pursued by mathematicians whose work is
motivated by physics. In this spirit, it is not planned to treat except
periferally the magnificent new applications of field theory, such as
Seiberg-Witten equations to Donaldson theory. Nor is the plan to consider
fundamental new constructions within mathematics that were inspired by
physics, such as quantum groups or vertex operator algebras. Nor is the aim
to discuss how to provide mathematical rigor for physical theories. Rather,
the goal is to develop the sort of intuition common among physicists for
those who are used to thought processes stemming from geometry and algebra.
During the year there will be several series of lectures, including:
Quantum field theory including Yang-Mills theory and renormalization, by L.
Faddeev
Conformal field theories from the point of view of functional integrals, by
K. Gawedzki
Super-symmetry, by D. Kazhdan
String theory leading to Yang-Mills theory and super-symmetry, by E. D'Hoker
S-duality, by E. Witten.
The Institute will have funds to support a limited number of
mathematicians and physicists at the postdoctoral level. Traditionally
our application deadline is December 1. However, we will be
considering candidates for this special program until February 1.
Application materials may be requested from Mr. Richard Lloyd, School
of Mathematics, Institute for Advanced Study, Olden Lane, Princeton, NJ
08540, (609) 734-8112. His e-mail address is: lloyd@math.ias.edu.
Also, forms may be accessed via a "gopher" connection to:
gopher.math.ias.edu, or via a "web" connection to:
http://www.math.ias.edu/.
If you know any outstanding recent Ph.D. who might be in a position to
benefit from this program, please give them this information and
encourage them to apply.
It would be helpful to both the applicant and to us to have letters of
recommendation which focus on the ability of the applicant to benefit from
being at the Institute during this special program.
Sincerely,
Robert MacPherson