Reductionism vs Bootstrap: Are Things Big Always Made of Things Elementary?

  • Speaker
  • Slava Rychkov, Ph.D.Permanent Professor, Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques
Date & Time


About Simons Foundation Lectures

Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
Video Thumbnail

By clicking to watch this video, you agree to our privacy policy.

Scientists love to reduce physical systems to a few elementary blocks, which they use like Lego building blocks to build more complicated ‘composite’ objects. Geoffrey Chew in the 1960s hypothesized, in connection with high-energy physics, a different type of situation. In this scenario, there are infinitely many particles, all of them equally elementary (or equally composite). The particles mutual existence is forced by tight requirements of self-consistency. He called this scheme ‘bootstrap,’ referring to a magical act of lifting oneself by one’s shoes.

In this lecture, Slava Rychkov will explain how the ‘bootstrap’ idea recently found a concrete realization in the theory of critical phenomena, with the three-dimensional Ising model being the simplest bootstrap system.

About the Speaker

Rychkov is a professor at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in Bures-sur-Yvette, France, and the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2002 followed by postdoctoral appointments at the University of Amsterdam and at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. He was a professor at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris from 2009 to 2012 and a staff member at the Theoretical Physics Department of CERN in Geneva from 2012 to 2018. Rychkov has been a recipient of the New Horizons in Physics Prize. His past work covers a wide range of subjects from pure mathematics to particle physics and string theory. His current main interest is developing efficient techniques for solving strongly coupled quantum field theories. He is the deputy director of the Simons Collaboration on the Nonperturbative Bootstrap.

Advancing Research in Basic Science and MathematicsSubscribe to our newsletters to receive news & updates