nLab duality in string theory



String theory

Duality in string theory



Whatever it is otherwise, string theory turns out to be an organizational principle that subsumes a wealth of effective quantum field theories together with hints for their UV-completion. As such, string theory reveals a multitude of equivalences between superficially very different-looking (classes of) quantum field theories, or between various limits (notably strong/weak coupling limits) of various different-looking quantum field theories. Large classes of these equivalences go by the name of “dualities”:


duality in string theory

general mechanisms

string-fivebrane duality

string-string dualities



string-QFT duality

QFT-QFT duality:


under construction

S-duality in string theory


U-duality | \updownarrow T-duality on T 2T^2 |

| | D3-brane in IIB sugra | \leftarrowS-duality\rightarrow | D3-brane in IIB sugra |

gauge theory induced via AdS-CFT correspondence

M-theory perspective via AdS7-CFT6F-theory perspective
11d supergravity/M-theory
\;\;\;\;\downarrow Kaluza-Klein compactification on S 4S^4compactificationon elliptic fibration followed by T-duality
7-dimensional supergravity
\;\;\;\;\downarrow topological sector
7-dimensional Chern-Simons theory
\;\;\;\;\downarrow AdS7-CFT6 holographic duality
6d (2,0)-superconformal QFT on the M5-brane with conformal invarianceM5-brane worldvolume theory
\;\;\;\; \downarrow KK-compactification on Riemann surfacedouble dimensional reduction on M-theory/F-theory elliptic fibration
N=2 D=4 super Yang-Mills theory with Montonen-Olive S-duality invariance; AGT correspondenceD3-brane worldvolume theory with type IIB S-duality
\;\;\;\;\; \downarrow topological twist
topologically twisted N=2 D=4 super Yang-Mills theory
\;\;\;\; \downarrow KK-compactification on Riemann surface
A-model on Bun GBun_G, Donaldson theory


gauge theory induced via AdS5-CFT4
type II string theory
\;\;\;\;\downarrow Kaluza-Klein compactification on S 5S^5
\;\;\;\; \downarrow topological sector
5-dimensional Chern-Simons theory
\;\;\;\;\downarrow AdS5-CFT4 holographic duality
N=4 D=4 super Yang-Mills theory
\;\;\;\;\; \downarrow topological twist
topologically twisted N=4 D=4 super Yang-Mills theory
\;\;\;\; \downarrow KK-compactification on Riemann surface
A-model on Bun GBun_G and B-model on Loc GLoc_G, geometric Langlands correspondence


Original articles

The original article suggesting the relation of 11d sugra to string theory is

An original article collecting all the weak/strong electric/magnetic dualities is

Surveys and lecture notes

More on dualities induced on K3-compactifications:

More in view of the landscape of string theory vacua:


  • Cumrun Vafa, around 3:30, 12:00 of On Mathematical Aspects of String Theory (video)

Discussion amplifying the role of category theory, and higher geometry is in

Last revised on December 20, 2020 at 13:18:08. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.