PHY 622 & 623 String Theory I & II

F'20, MWF 9:15-10:10 — S'21, MWF 10:00-53

M. Roček, W. Siegel, P. van Nieuwenhuizen

office consultation available on request

On-line lecture notes, etc.

van Nieuwenhuizen

String Theory

Other courses


Reading & homework for F'20

Fields v4

Spinning string

Lightcone algebra

Some previous semesters


This is a two-semester course. The course is taught by all of us; we attend each other's lectures, and encourage discussions with students.

String theory is a vast subject, so it is not possible to cover all areas. We give simple introductions to the main areas; the lectures are self-contained. We do not use phrases like "It can be shown that...", but rather do all derivations and calculations explicitly.

This year we will begin teaching another revised version of the string course. As such, the following is a tentative description, subject to revision.

First semesterSecond semester
  1. introduction to supersymmetry (Roček)
    1. spinors in various dimensions
    2. super Yang-Mills
    3. supergravity
  2. free strings (Siegel)
    1. particles
    2. bosonic strings
    3. spinning strings
    4. superstrings
    5. types of strings
  3. (super)conformal field theory (van Nieuwenhuizen)
    1. covariant (BRST) quantization of bosonic & spinning strings
    2. matter & ghost fields, currents, OPE's, D=26 & 10
    3. partition functions & modular invariance
  4. lightcone Lorentz algebra (Siegel)
    1. bosonic
    2. spinning/super
  1. dualities
    1. T-duality: Buscher rules
    2. S-duality in supergravity: weak ↔ strong coupling
  2. compactification
    1. supersymmetric vacua
    2. branes
    3. differential geometry
  3. interacting strings
    1. Regge theory
    2. 1st-quantized S-matrices
    3. string tree graphs


There are a few topics for which you should understand @ least the basics; for a review see the following chapters of the text for the Introduction to Modern Theoretical Physics course mentioned previously:
Dirac equation15
classical Yang-Mills50
basic general relativity:
tensors & Einstein's equations
Quantum field theory is not a prerequisite, but we will apply (relativistic) quantum mechanics to first-quantization of strings, & to S(cattering)-matrices.


👑🦠 Remote instruction

Student participation

We demand questions from students. If you remain silent, we have no way of knowing how well you are following. It does you no good to complain only on the course evaluations (although that may help future students). If you're buying a car, & take it out for a test drive, but use only the gas pedal & not the brake, you can't complain to the salesman afterward that it goes too fast.

Grading: S/U

Grading will be based on class participation.
University-required statements
These statements are required in all University syllabi. (They are the same in all course syllabi, so just read it once.)