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N = 2 Minimal Models

Edward Witten

May 1, 1997

I Landau{Ginzburg models

The topic for the rst part of today's lecture is a more detailed discussion of the known evidence

for the predicted equivalence between IR limits of certain Landau{Ginzburg models, and the

algebraically constructible conformal eld theories known as \minimal models."

Consider rst the simplest Landau{Ginzburg model: a two-dimensional N =2 theory of a

single chiral supereld with Lagrangian

Z Z

L= d2x d4 + d2x d+ d k + c.c. :

Our claim in lecture II-12 was that this model
ows in the IR to a conformal eld theory with

c = 1 k2 . If true, then the theory it
ows to must be an algebraically solvable theory, due to

b

the known classication of representations of the N =2 superconformal algebra with bc < 1. More

precisely, xing bc = 1 k2 , there turn out to be a nite number of irreducible representations H

of the algebra of central charge bc (up to isomorphism); a conformal eld theory must be built as

a modular-invariant combination

M

(H

H )e

Notes by David R. Morrison

1

of these representations. The simplest modular-invariant combination, and the one which will

occur here, is the unweighted diagonal sum over all of the representations:

M

H

H:

More general Landau{Ginzburg models involve several chiral superelds 1 , . .. , n and a

quasi-homogeneous polynomial W (1 ; : : :; n ) which serves as the superpotential of the theory.

We should assume that the polynomial is transverse in the sense that W = dW = 0 holds only at

the origin; the quasi-homogeneity condition can be expressed as the existence of positive rational

numbers j such that

X @W

W = j j :

@ j

The Lagrangian can be written

Z Z

L = d2x d4 j j + d2x d+ d W (j ) + c.c. :

one of the R-symmetries, namely

+ ! e i" + ; ! ;

to act on the chiral elds as j ! ei"j j so that the superpotential transforms as W ! ei" W

and hence the Lagrangian is invariant. If we assume that these microscopic R-symmetries become

the R-symmetries of a limiting conformal eld theory in the IR, then we can calculate the central

charge bc of that limiting theory via operator product expansions.

This works as follows. Recall that the coecient k which we encountered in lecture II-13 as

measuring the anomaly which arises if one attempts to gauge the R-symmetry JL appears in the

operator product expansion as

k

JL(x) JL (x0 ) = + :

(x x0 )2

The interpretation of k as the obstruction to gauging makes it clear that it is a topological

invariant which can be reliably measured or computed at any scale. In particular, it can be

calculated in the UV, where the superpotential doesn't matter. On the other hand, if JL is the

2

same R-symmetry which appears in the limiting N = 2 superconformal eld theory, then the

operator product expansion of the superconformal algebra asserts that

c

JL(x) JL (x0 ) = + ;

b

(x x0 )2

where bc is the central charge in the N = 2 algebra. Thus, k = bc and we can measure the IR

central charge by computing in the UV.

To compute k in the ultraviolet, one treats the elds as free elds. The obstruction to gauging

comes from the fact that the R-symmetries are chiral symmetries for the fermions in the free

P

supermultiplets. One gets k = j (1 2j ). Assuming the
ow to an N = 2 theory in the

infrared, with the same R-symmetry appearing in the N = 2 algebra, we have k = bc and hence

P

c = j (1 2j ). Notice that in the case of a single eld with W () = k , we must have

b

= 1=k and so we get the desired result bc = 1 2=k for the minimal model.

We now want to consider a more sophisticated argument in favor of this equivalence, one

which reveals more of the structure of the (limiting) conformal eld theory. Recall the structure

of the N =2 algebra:

fQ; Q g = P

fQ ; Qg = 0:

We have Q2+ = 0 so we can consider the cohomology of Q+ , i.e., consider local operators O =

O(x) such that fQ+ ; Og = 0. Then

@+ O = Q+ ; Q+ ; O = Q+ ; fQ+ ; Og ;

i.e., in Euclidean language (identifying (x+ ; x ) with (z; z )) we would say that the class of O(x)

in Q+ -cohomology varies holomorphically.

Taking two such operators, using holomorphic language, we write

X

O(z )O0 (z 0 ) = fk (z z 0 )Ok (z 0 ) + fQ+ ; g;

with the fk 's being holomorphic functions. From this formula, we can see that the Q+ -cohomology

has the general struture of a conformal eld theory in which the operators are \purely left-

moving," that is, they vary holomorphically.

3

An important remark is that the Q+ -cohomology is invariant under Weyl rescaling, and hence

it depends only on the complex structure of the Riemann surface (not the metric). To see this

invariance, we must show that Tzz is Q+ -exact. A natural way to prove this is to modify the

usual denition of scale invariance, employing the quasi-homogeneity of our polynomial, so that

the superpotential term is preserved under the modied scaling. Then the kinetic term in the

R

action fails to be scale-invariant, but the change in the kinetic term is of the form d4( ) and

hence is Q+ -exact.

We have formulated this discussion in terms of Q+ -cohomology in order to include very

general N =2 theories. However, whenever there is a superspace realization of the theory (as

is true of the Landau{Ginzburg theories we are studying), it is more convenient to study the

D+ -cohomology rather than the Q+ -cohomology, where

+ + + +

D+ = e @+ Q+ e @+ :

2D+ D j = @@W

j :

Consider the operator

1 j D j D i @ ;

X

T= 2 j j j

j

then D + T = 0 so that this denes a D + -cohomology class. 1

In the free theory, with W = 0, T is an operator of dimension (1; 0). If we have a supercon-

formal theory, we will be able to write

T = J + G + G + T:

If we do arrive at an N =2 conformal eld theory in the limit, then we should expect an OPE of

the form

T (x) T (y) = (x bc y)2 + (x T y) + holomorphic in O's:

1 We should worry about anomalies here, but in fact there is no quantum anomaly in the statement that

D+ T = 0, though there are such anomalies in somewhat similar statements in two-dimensional models with

; U R Symmetry And Conformal Invariance

Of (0 2) Models," Phys. Lett. B328 (1994) 307.

;

4

We can check this structure in the free eld theory: the rst term comes from a diagram of the

form

with two propagators exchanged between the two operators and the second term comes from a

diagram of the form

Note that, in computing these terms in the operator product expansion, we can set W = 0,

since the superpotential term is too soft (superrenormalizable) to contribute to these singularities.

Once this is done, the dierent superelds are decoupled, so the computation of bc is a sum over

dierent superelds. So there is an immediate conclusion that bc is additive in the j 's, that is,

P

c = f (j ) for some function f .

b

In summary, even in our microscopic Lagrangian, we can see an operator T , which at the

level of D + cohomology obeys at N = 2 superconformal algebra. So presumably this theory

ows in the IR to a conformal eld theory whose D+ -cohomology contains the superconformal

algebra.

If we have only one chiral supereld, so bc < 1, the N = 2 algebra acts almost irreducibly in

the quantum Hilbert space. Hence one should expect that T will generate the Q+ -cohomology.

For bc > 1, the N = 2 algebra acts in a way that is far from irreducible, and one should expect

to require additional generators.

5

II The elliptic genus

Our rened evidence for the equivalence of these theories will come from a computation of the

elliptic genus. We work on a Riemann surface of genus 1 with period lattice spanned by 1 and

.

0 1

The insertion of ( 1)FR means that the right-moving fermions + , + should be given the

odd spin structure (the one periodic in both directions) while the left-moving fermions ,

should be be given the even spin structure (anti-periodic in one direction):

+

For N =1 supersymmetry, that was the right thing to compute|it turns out to be an index

The story is more interesting in the case of N =2 supersymmetry, since there is the possibility

of inserting ei JL , which commutes with both Q+ and Q+ .2 We introduce the function

The insertion of ei
JL means: when calculating the trace, glue the data on the torus using ei
JL .

The rst observation is that the quantity F (q;
) is independent of any continuously variable

parameters of the theory that preserve the N = 2 structure. This is so as it is a linear combination

2 We use the same symbol JL for the left R-current and the conserved charge derived from it.

6

of terms each of which is an index of an operator. For the same reason (or because the trace of

the stress tensor of the theory is Q+ -exact) F (q;
) is independent of the area of the torus, and

only depends on the complex structure.

We want to calculate F (q;
) in two contexts: (i) an algebraic calculation for the known

algebraically constructed models in the IR, and (ii) directly for the Landau{Ginzburg models in

the UV. The comparison of these two will then provide additional evidence that the Landau{

Ginzburg theory indeed
ows to the \minimal model" in the IR.

L

The Hilbert space of a \minimal model" takes the form H = H

H , with the left-movers

in H and the right-movers in H . Thus, the elliptic genus can be written

X

F (q; ) = TrH q(H P )=2 ei JL TrH q(H +P )=2 ( 1)FR :

The right-moving contribution TrH q(H +P )=2 ( 1)FR evaluates to 1 if H has highest weight

with H + P = 0 and 0 otherwise. This has the eect of selecting a distinguished subset from

among the irreducible representations. Let us introduce a restricted sum 0 to denote the sum

P

X

F (q; ) = 0 TrH q(H P )=2 ei JL :

(Note that the eigenvalues of the charge JL are not integers in general. Rather, the object

exp(2iJL ) commutes with the N = 2 algebra and is a constant in each representation; the

constant depends on the R-charges of the chiral primary elds, which are rational numbers. So

F (q; ) is periodic in , but the period is not 2.)

For the Landau{Ginzburg theory itself, we can try to directly calculate in the UV. We use the

fact that F (q; ) is independent of the area of the torus. We take the area to be very small.

Roughly, in the UV the interaction is negligible and we should be able to set W = 0. The only

7

reason for this to fail has to do with the behavior for large elds. The bosonic part of the action

is

dW 2

Z Z

2

jdj + d :

In the presence of the W term, the unique minimum of the action is = 0. If we would set W

to zero, the action would be minimized for any constant . One would have to integrate over

the space of constant 's even in a leading approximation to the path integral, and then when

becomes suciently large, the W term, if its coecient is not strictly zero, is important.

The conclusion is, then, that as long as is a function on the torus, the W term cannot quite

be ignored. If, however, were not a function but a section of a nontrivial
at bundle, then

even at W = 0, the jdj2 part of the action would have a unique and nondegenerate minimum.

In that situation, it would be straightforward, in the limit of small area on the torus, to set W

to zero.

In the path integral evaluation of F (q;
) for generic
, we get just such a situation in which

is a section of a nontrivial
at bundle. The reason is that JL acts on by = . So in

evaluating the elliptic genus we are making the identication

(P + ) = ei (P )

(where we regard the torus as the quotient of the complex plane by the lattice generated by 1 and

, and P is any point on the complex plane). is a section of the
at bundle on the torus specied

by this gluing. If
is generic, the zero-section is isolated and moreover nondegenerate minimum

of the action even if we set W = 0. The nondegeneracy makes computations straightforward.

The calculation of F (q;
) can then be carried out in detail, setting W = 0 and expressing F as

a ratio of determinants. Explaining how this goes would take us too far aeld, but the result3 is

1 (1 qn ei
(k+1))(1 qn e i
(k+1))

1 ei
(k+1) Y

F (q;
) = e i
k=2 :

1 ei
n=1 (1 qnei
)(1 qn e i
)

When compared with the algebraic calculation in the IR, one can extract formulas for certain

characters of the N =2 algebra. These formulas can be veried independently, giving strong

3 E. Witten, \On the Landau{Ginzburg Description of N =2 Minimal Models," Int. J. Mod. Phys. A 9 (1994)

4783{4800; hep-th/9304026.

8

support to the claim that the Landau-Ginzburg theory
ows to the N = 2 minimal model in the

infrared.

Consider now the U (1) gauge theory with chiral superelds j of charge j and P of charge

P

1, such that j = 1. (We are no longer assuming that all of the j 's are equal, and we

are using a dierent normalization for the generator of U (1) than in lecture II-12.) Denote the

gauge supermultiplet by

= + ;

let W (1 ; : : :; n) be a transverse, quasi-homogeneous polynomial as above (i.e., satisfying W =

P

j j @@W

j , with W = dW = 0 only at the origin), and consider the Lagrangian

Z Z Z

L= d 2 x d4

+ j j + d2x d2 P W () + c.c. + d2x d+ d t + c.c.

4e2

such that t = 2 ir.

The polynomial P W () is gauge invariant, and we can repeat our earlier story: for r 0 we

classically get a Calabi{Yau hypersurface fW = 0g in weighted projective space WCP(n11;:::;n )

(which may inherit some singularities from those of the weighted projective space); for r 0

we get a Landau{Ginzburg orbifold whose superpotential is W . The quantum theory is singular

only when r = r0, = 0. (r0 is a constant computed as in lecture II-12.) The computation of

the central charge in Landau{Ginzburg theory gives

X

c

b = (1 2j );

j

P

the computation for the -model gives bc = dimC X , and these agree since j = 1.

σ -model

LG orbifold

θ

9

The elliptic genus should be independent of t since it is a topological invariant; this leads

to a formula which relates the elliptic genus of this type of Calabi{Yau manifold to the explicit

elliptic genus which can be computed via characters of minimal models on the Landau{Ginzburg

side.

Although the elliptic genus is independent of t, one of the other quantities we have discussed

for N =2 theories|the Qt -cohomology|varies holomorphically with t. The instantons in this

problem|which R

are holomorphic

R

curves in the -model|will contribute

R

to the path integral in

F 2x D P 2 it (c (L))

the form e i 2 e r d where D = j jj j r, i.e., e

2 1 . (I have used the

fact that the instanton equation of the N = 2 model { the condition for the eld to be invariant

R R

under some supersymmetry { gives d2xD = F=2.) We will explore the instanton sums in

the second half of the lecture.

10

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