## June 10, 2006

### Topological T-Duality

In a recent post, I talked a bit about what the mathematicians call “Topological T-Duality.” I posed the question as to how confident we were that their definition is right. A discussion ensued about what “being right” means in this context, and what the implications might be if the definition of Mathai, Bunke and others isn’t right.

Since the mathematical definition is supposed to be an attempt to generalize the physicists’ notion of T-duality, I figure that “right” means that, whenever both definitions apply, the mathematicians’ definition should give the same answer as the physicists’.

The simplest nontrivial case to look at is the Hopf bundle, $S^3\to S^2$, with $k$ units of $H$-flux on $S^3$. The topological T-dual of this is $S^3/\mathbb{Z}_k$, with one unit of $H$-flux.

This is nice example because both sides admit a (unique) CFT description and we can check whether the two CFTs are, in fact, isomorphic.

$S^3$ is also known as the group manifold, $SU(2)$. Putting $k$ units of $H$-flux amounts to setting the (quantized) coefficient of the Wess-Zumino term equal to $k$. There’s an RG fixed point of this system (a constant curvature metric on the $S^2$, with a particular value for the total area), called the $SU(2)$ WZW model at level-$k$. This is a conformal field theory with central charge, $c=\frac{3k}{k+2}$, and primary states for the current algebra have $h_j =\frac{j(j+1)}{k+2}$, for $j=0,1/2,\dots,k/2$.

The other side of the duality, $S^3/\mathbb{Z}_k$, with one unit of $H$-flux, is the same as the quotient by $\mathbb{Z}_k$ of $S^3$ with $k$ units of $H$-flux. We can take the $\mathbb{Z}_k$ to act by left-multiplication1

(1)
$g \mapsto e^{2\pi i \sigma_3/k} g$

This theory also has a CFT description, as the $\mathbb{Z}_k$ orbifold of the (original!) level-$k$ WZW model by the above $\mathbb{Z}_k$ action. Naturally, these two CFTs have the same central charge.

Acting on the states of the CFT, the $\mathbb{Z}_k$ acts as

(2)
$|\Phi\rangle \mapsto e^{4\pi i J^3_0 /k} |\Phi\rangle$

and, on all operators (including the currents which generate the $SU(2)$ current algebra), it acts by conjugation

(3)
$\mathcal{O} \mapsto e^{4\pi i J^3_0 /k} \mathcal{O} e^{-4\pi i J^3_0 /k}$

So … is the $SU(2)$ WZW model at level-$k$ isomorphic to its orbifold by $\mathbb{Z}_k$?

The first nontrivial case, $k=2$, works out quite nicely. $e^{2\pi i J^3_0}$ acts as $+1$ on all states with $j\in\mathbb{Z}$, and as $-1$ on all states with half-integral $j$. Thus the $[j=0]$ and $[j=1]$ representations of the current algebra are preserved, whereas the entire $[j=1/2]$ representation is projected out. (Note, in particular, that the currents, which are the first excited states of the $[j=0]$ representation, are preserved, so all of the states of the orbifold theory must organize themselves into representations of the current algebra. That’s because we’re orbifolding by an element of the center of the group.)

Of course, we’re not done: we need to add the twisted sector of the orbifold. In this case, the ground state of the twisted sector has $h=3/16$, and so reproduces exactly the same spectrum of states that we projected out.

So far, so good, but the prospects for higher $k$ look, at first glance, rather bleak. For $k\gt 2$, the currents, $J^\pm$, are projected out of the untwisted sector of the orbifold ($J^3$ is preserved) and I did not see how they could be regenerated in the twisted sector. So I was pretty much tempted to conclude that $\widehat{SU}(2)_k$ and $(\widehat{SU}(2)_k)/\mathbb{Z}_k$ could not be equivalent for $k\gt 2$.

But then I turned up an old paper of Gaberdiel’s, where he claims2 to prove precisely that: “there exists a quantization” of the orbifold theory in which the spectrum coincides with that of the original theory. The last part of the paper, where he actually purports to construct the spectrum of the orbifolded theory, is still a little opaque to me.

I should be able to see the answer to my question (how are the currents, which were projected out of the untwisted sector, regenerated in the twisted sectors?), but I don’t. Can anyone help me out?

#### Update (6/11/2006):

A reader emailed me to point out that the answer to my question is, in fact, contained in section 6 of Maldacena, Moore and Seiberg.

They prove that the spin-$j$ characters for $(\widehat{SU}(2)_{k=k_1 k_2})/\mathbb{Z}_{k_1}$ orbifold (where, instead of (1), one mods out by $g \mapsto e^{2\pi i \sigma_3/k_1} g$) can be written as

(4)
$\chi_j(q) = \sum_{\substack{n=-2j,-2j+2,\dots,2j-2\\ n+n'=0 \mod 2k_1\\ n-n' = 0 \mod 2k_2 }}\chi_{j,n}^{\text{PF}}(q)\chi_{n'}^{U(1)}(q)$

Here, $\chi_{n'}^{U(1)}(q) = \frac{1}{\eta(\tau)}\sum_{r\in \mathbb{Z}+ \frac{n'}{2k_1}} q^{k_1 r^2}$ are the characters for the $\hat{U}(1)_{k_1}$ current algebra, whose extended chiral algebra contains a pair of charged fields of dimension $k_1$ (a free scalar, compactified on a circle of radius $R=\sqrt{\alpha' k_1}$). The $\mathbb{Z}_{k}$ parafermion characters can be written as \begin{aligned} \chi_{j,n}^{\text{PF}}(q) = q^{\frac{(2j+1)^2}{4(k+2)}-\frac{n^2}{k}}\eta(\tau)^{-2} \sum_{r,s=0}^{\infty}&(-1)^{r+s}q^{s(s+1)/2+r(r+1)/2+sr(k+1)} \\ &\cdot\left[ q^{s(j-n)+r(j+n)}-q^{k+1-2j +s(k+1-j+n)+r(k+1-j-n)} \right] \end{aligned} They are defined for $-2j\leq n\leq 2j$, $n+2j\in2\mathbb{Z}$ and are explicitly invariant under $n\to -n$. The $\widehat{SU}(2)_k$ characters, $\chi_j^{SU(2)}(q)$, are obtained as a special case of (4), for $k_1=1$.

The partition function of the orbifolded theory is $Z(q,\overline{q}) = \sum_{j=0, 1/2,\dots,k/2} \chi_j(q) \overline{\chi_j^{SU(2)}(q)}$

T-duality is $n'\to -n'$, which, we see, equates the characters (and hence partition functions) of the $(\widehat{SU}(2)_{k})/\mathbb{Z}_{k_1}$ theory with those of the $(\widehat{SU}(2)_{k})/\mathbb{Z}_{k_2}$ theory.

In the particular case, $k_1=1, k_2=k$, they relate the $\widehat{SU}(2)_{k}$ theory to the $(\widehat{SU}(2)_{k})/\mathbb{Z}_{k}$ theory.

1 Depending on the value of $k$, there are other free $\mathbb{Z}_k$ actions, which act by a combination of left- and right-multiplication. My puzzlement applies to those as well.

2 He actually makes the claim much more generally, not just for $SU(2)$, but for any simple, connected, simply-connected Lie group, $G$. And not just for $\mathbb{Z}_k$, but for any finite subgroup of the Cartan torus. The felicitous outcome I noted above happens whenever you mod out by a subgroup of the center of $G$.

Posted by distler at June 10, 2006 12:06 AM

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## 1 Comment & 2 Trackbacks

Read the post Mathai on T-Duality IV: Distler on CFT Checks
Weblog: The String Coffee Table
Excerpt: Jacques Distler comments on CFT checks of topological T-duality.
Tracked: June 10, 2006 6:55 AM

### Re: Topological T-Duality

Let’s see.

The claim is that topological T-duality contains no less information than the Buscher rules. In fact, the construction was apparently originally motivated by the desire to find a globally defined formulation of the Buscher rules.

In the introduction of hep-th/0312052 it says

we will present a general formula for the topology and H-flux of a compactification from the topology and H-flux of its T-dual. As supporting evidence, we have shown [7] that locally our formula agrees with the Buscher rules and that globally it yields an isomorphism of the twisted K-theory-valued conserved RR charges [8,9,10].

So maybe the question about how much topological T-duality disagrees with CFT T-duality can be understood from this perspective.

Posted by: urs on June 13, 2006 9:40 AM | Permalink | Reply to this
Read the post Brodzki, Mathai, Rosenberg & Szabo on D-Branes, RR-Fields and Duality
Weblog: The String Coffee Table
Excerpt: Mathai et al give a detailed analysis of the nature of D-branes, RR-charges and T-duality using and extending the topological/algebraic machinery known from "topological T-duality".
Tracked: July 20, 2006 5:10 PM

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