The Simons Foundation is pleased to announce the establishment of the Simons Collaboration on the Non-Perturbative Bootstrap, directed by Leonardo Rastelli of the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics, Stony Brook.
Quantum field theory (QFT) is a universal language for theoretical physics, describing phenomena ranging from the Standard Model of particle physics and early universe inflation to phase transitions and superconductivity in terrestrial materials. A triumph of 20th Century physics was the understanding of weakly coupled QFTs. However, weakly interacting systems represent a tiny island in theory space and do not capture many of the most interesting physical phenomena. The critical challenge for the future and the main goal of the new Simons collaboration is to map and understand the whole space of QFTs, including strongly coupled models. Meeting this challenge requires new physical insight, new mathematics, and new computational tools. The starting point is the astonishing discovery that the space of QFTs can be determined by using only general principles of symmetry and quantum mechanics. By analyzing the full implications of these general principles, one can make sharp predictions for many physical observables without resorting to approximations. This strategy is called the bootstrap.
The bootstrap idea has its roots in work done in the 1960s on the S-matrix approach to the strong nuclear force and reappeared in the 1970s and 1980s with the formulation of the conformal bootstrap, which was applied with great success to rational conformal field theories (CFTs), a special class of two-dimensional models with enhanced symmetry. The collaboration is motivated by the recent discovery of new bootstrap techniques that apply to far more general classes of QFTs and have been applied to a wide variety of seemingly unrelated problems: to perform the world’s most precise analysis of the 3-D Ising model (which describes the water-vapor critical point), to constrain strongly coupled theories of physics beyond the Standard Model, to aid in classifying superconformal field theories, to derive locality and black hole thermality in models of quantum gravity, and to prove irreversibility of renormalization group flows. This is the beginning of a much larger enterprise, crossing traditional boundaries between string theory, condensed matter physics, and phenomenology, and making strong connections to modern mathematics and computer science.
More information about the collaboration can be found here.
The Simons Foundation will support more collaborations in future years; groups interested in applying should review the Request for Applications available on our website.