A particularly powerful approach to strong coupling is based on the idea of duality: two very different quantum field theories can actually describe the same physics. What appears to be strongly coupled in one description is weakly coupled in the other. Recent years have shown the power of this idea in the context of three-dimensional field theories, bringing together ideas from the particle physics and condensed matter physics communities. For the latter, thinking in terms of topological defects such as vortices and hedgehogs formalized by duality transformations contributed significantly to understanding of phases of strongly interacting many-body systems, in particular of fractionalized phases including fractional quantum Hall states and spin liquids, complex charge ordering patterns in Mott insulators, and more recently symmetry-protected topological phases. For the former, using supersymmetric field theories as toy models has led to an understanding of intricate webs of dualities between theories with different matter content and even different dimensions, that has guided the search for non-supersymmetric dualities.
The last year has seen the high-energy and condensed matter communities coming together following dramatic developments in our understanding of (2+1)-dimensional field theories, connecting an astonishing array of ideas from condensed matter physics, particle physics and string theory. Our conference will bring together leading experts from both communities to take the next steps in this exciting journey.
*Denotes physicist in charge of diversity. The Aspen Center for Physics is committed to a significant participation of women and under-represented groups in all of its programs.