physics, mathematical physics, philosophy of physics
theory (physics), model (physics)
experiment, measurement, computable physics
Axiomatizations
Tools
Structural phenomena
Types of quantum field thories
A 2-dimensional TQFT is a topological quantum field theory on cobordisms of dimension 2.
When formulated as an (only) “globally” as 1-functors on a 1-category of cobordisms (see at FQFT for more), then 2d TQFTs have a comparatively simple classification: the bulk field theory is determined by a commutative Frobenius algebra structure on the finite dimensional vector space assigned to the circle (Abrams 96).
However, such global 2d TQFTs with coefficients in Vect do not capture the 2d TQFTs of most interest in quantum field theory, which instead are “cohomological quantum field theories” (Witten 91) such as the topological string A-model and B-model that participate in homological mirror symmetry.
These richer 2d TQFTs are instead local TQFTs in the sense of extended TQFT, i.e. they are (∞,2)-functors on a suitable (∞,2)-category of cobordisms (see at FQFT for more), typically on “non-compact” 2-d cobordisms, meaning on those that have non-vanishing outgoing bounary. As such they are now classified by Calabi-Yau objects in an symmetric monoidal (infinity,2)-category (Lurie 09, section 4.2). For coefficients in the (∞,2)-category of (∞,2)-vector space (i.e. A-∞ algebras with (∞,1)-bimodules between them in the (∞,1)-category of chain complexes), these theories had been introduced under the name “TCFT” in (Getzler 92, Segal 99) following ideas of Maxim Kontsevich, and have been classified in (Costello 04), see (Lurie 09, theorem 4.2.11, theorem 4.2.14).
The following study of the behaviour of 2-dimensional TQFTs in terms of the topology of the moduli spaces of marked hyperbolic surfaces is due to Ezra Getzler. It provides a powerful way to read off various classification results for 2d QFTs from the homotopy groups of the corresponding modular operad.
Let $Core$(FinSet) be the core of the category of finite sets. Under union of sets this is a symmetric monoidal category. Then for $C$ any monoidal category, a symmetric monoidal functor
is a commutative monoid in $C$.
Let now $C$ be a category with weak equivalences, then we can speak of a lax symmetric opmonoidal functor
if the structure maps
are weak equivalences.
Segal called these “$\Delta$-objects”. Since Carlos Simpson they are called Segal object?s.
There is also Jim Stasheff’s notion of an A-infinity algebra, given in terms of associahedra $K_n$, which are $(n-2)$-dimensional polytopes.
There is naturally a filtration on these guys with
where $F_0 K_n$ is the set of vertices, $F_1 K_n$ the set of edges, etc.
The collection
of simplicial realizations of the $K_n$ form an sSet-operad $P$.
For $X$ a simplicial category that is symmetric monoidal, a $P$-algebra over an operad $X$ in $C$ is an $A_\infty$-monoid object
MacLane’s coherence theorem says or uses that if $C$ is an n-category, we may replace $K_m$ here by the $n$-filtration $F_n K_m$.
Let
be a compact oriented surface with $n$ distinct marked points. Write
for the moduli space of hyperbolic metrics with cusps at the $(z_i)$.
We have
and
where $\Tau_{g,n}$ is the Teichmüller space and $\Gamma$ the mapping class group.
Here we can assume that the Euler characteristic $\chi(\Sigma without \{z_i\}) \lt 0$ because otherwise this moduli space is empty.
We want to parameterize Teichmüller space by cutting surfaces into pieces with geodesic boundaries and Euler characteristic $\xi = -1$. These building blocks (of hyperbolic 2d geometry) are precisely
the 3-holed sphere;
the 2-holed cusp;
the 1-holed 2-cusp;
the 3-cusp
Each surface of genus $g$ with $n$ marked points will have
$2g - 2 + n$ generalized pants;
$3 g - 3 + n$ closed curves.
The boundary lengths $\ell_i \in \mathbb{R}_+$ and twists $t_i \in \mathbb{R}$ of these pieces for
constitute the Fenchel-Nielsen coordinates on Teichmüller space $\Tau$.
Also use $\theta_i := t_i/\ell_i \in \mathbb{R}/\mathbb{Z}$
This constitutes is a real analytic atlas of Teichmüller space. On $M$ this reduces to coordinates $t_i \in \mathbb{R}/{\ell_i \mathbb{Z}}$, and these constitute a real analytic atlas of moduli space.
Allow the lengths $\ell_i$ to go to 0, but keep the angles $\theta_i$. The resulting space is a real analytic manifold with corners $\hat \Tau$ (due to Bill Harvey?) and this constitutes a Borel-Serre bordification? of $\Tau$.
The mapping class group $\Gamma$ still acts on $\hat \Tau$ and the quotient $\hat M$ is an orbifold with corners, inside which still sits our moduli space $M$.
Kimura-Stasheff-Voronov: add a choice of directions at each nodal point in $\Sigma$. This removes all automorphisms and hence we no longer have to deal with an orbifold.
This yields the classifying stack $\mathcal{P}_{g,n}$ for $\Gamma_{g,n}$
Then the collection
is a modular operad: the operad that describes gluing of marked surfaces at marked points together with the informaiton on how to glue marked points of a single surface to each other.
A 2-dimensional closed TQFT is an algebra over an operad over this in a simplicial category, in the above sense.
This involves either the de Rham complex on $\mathcal{P}_{g,n}$ or $S_\bullet(\mathcal{P}_{g,n})$.
Let
where $\Sigma$ has $\geq 2g-2+n-k$ spheres as components (after cutting along zero-length closed curves).
So for instance
$F_0 \mathcal{P}_{g,n}$ is the pants-decomposition;
$F_1 \mathcal{P}_{g,n}$ is decompositions into pants and one piece being the result of either gluing two pants to each other or of gluing two circles of a single pant to each other.
This $F_1 ..$ is a connected space, due to a theorem by Hatcher-Thurston. Notice This is equivalent to the familiar statement that a closed 2d TFT is a commutative Frobenius algebra.
$F_2 \mathcal{P}_{g,n}$ is the decomposition into pieces as before together with one two-holed torus or one five-holed sphere.
This space has the space fundamental group as $\mathcal{P}_{g,n}$.
This is equivalent to the theorem by Moore and Seiberg about categorified 2-d TFT.
The inclusion
is $k$-connected.
Here a map $X\to Y$ is $k$-connected if
$\pi_0(X) \to \pi_0(Y)$ is surjective;
$\pi_i(X,x) \to \pi_i(Y,f(x))$ is a bijection for $i \lt k$ and surjective $i = k$.
This means precisely that the mapping cone is $k$-connected.
Use the cellular decomposition of moduli space $\mathcal{M}_{g,1}$ following Mumford, Thurston, Harer, Woeditch-Epstein, Penner.
Some other versions of this:
is $k$-connected.
One can also use Deligne-Mumford compactifications
and this is also $k$-connected.
…
The folklore result that global closed 2d TQFTs with coefficients in Vect are equivalent to commutative Frobenius algebra structures is proven rigorously in
The classification result for open-closed 2d TQFTs was famously announced and sketched in
Greg Moore, Graeme Segal, Lectures on branes, K-theory and RR charges, Clay Math Institute Lecture Notes (2002), (web)
Calin Lazaroiu, On the structure of open-closed topological ﬁeld theory in two dimensions, Nuclear Phys. B 603(3), 497–530 (2001), (arXiv:hep-th/0010269)
A standard textbook is
A picture-rich description of what’s going on is in
The local (extended TQFT) version of 2d TQFT which captures the topological string was mathematically introduced under the name “TCFT”.
The concept is essentially a formalization of what used to be called cohomological field theory in
The definition was given independently by
and
The classification of TCFTs (i.e. “non-compact” local (extended 2d TQFT)) by Calabi-Yau A-infinity categories is due to
Kevin Costello, Topological conformal field theories and Calabi-Yau categories Advances in Mathematics, Volume 210, Issue 1, (2007), (arXiv:math/0412149)
Kevin Costello, The Gromov-Witten potential associated to a TCFT (arXiv:math/0509264)
following conjectures by Maxim Kontsevich, e.g.
The classification of local (extended) 2d TQFT (i.e. the “compact” but fully local case) is spelled out in
This classification is a precursor of the full cobordism hypothesis-theorem. This, and the reformulation of the original TCFT constructions in full generality is in