Topological quantum field theory

In gauge theory and mathematical physics, a topological quantum field theory (or topological field theory or TQFT) is a quantum field theory which computes topological invariants. Although TQFTs were invented by physicists, they are also of mathematical interest, being related to, among other things, knot theory and the theory of four-manifolds in algebraic topology, and to the theory of moduli spaces in algebraic geometry. Donaldson, Jones, Witten, and Kontsevich have all won Fields Medals for mathematical work related to topological field theory. In condensed matter physics, topological quantum field theories are the low-energy effective theories of topologically ordered states, such as fractional quantum Hall states, string-net condensed states, and other strongly correlated quantum liquid states. In a topological field theory, correlation functions do not depend on the metric of spacetime. This means that the theory is not sensitive to changes in the shape of spacetime; if spacetime warps or contracts, the correlation functions do not change. Consequently, they are topological invariants. Topological field theories are not very interesting on flat Minkowski spacetime used in particle physics. Minkowski space can be contracted to a point, so a TQFT applied to Minkowski space results in trivial topological invariants. Consequently, TQFTs are usually applied to curved spacetimes, such as, for example, Riemann surfaces. Most of the known topological field theories are defined on spacetimes of dimension less than five. It seems that a few higher-dimensional theories exist, but they are not very well understood . Quantum gravity is believed to be background-independent (in some suitable sense), and TQFTs provide examples of background independent quantum field theories. This has prompted ongoing theoretical investigations into this class of models. (Caveat: It is often said that TQFTs have only finitely many degrees of freedom. This is not a fundamental property.
À propos de ce résultat
Cette page est générée automatiquement et peut contenir des informations qui ne sont pas correctes, complètes, à jour ou pertinentes par rapport à votre recherche. Il en va de même pour toutes les autres pages de ce site. Veillez à vérifier les informations auprès des sources officielles de l'EPFL.