Organizers: Daniel Harlow, Manki Kim, Hotat Lam, Washington Taylor
Held every Wednesday, 3:30-4:30pm EST. (Except where noted)


Wednesday, September 14
Zhenbin Yang, Stanford (Zoom)
Title: Firewalls from wormholes
Abstract: Spacetime wormholes can lead to surprises in black hole physics. We show that a very old black hole can tunnel to a white hole/firewall by emitting a large baby universe. We study the process for a perturbed thermofield double black hole in Jackiw-Teitelboim (JT) gravity, using the lowest order (genus one) spacetime wormhole that corresponds to single baby-universe emission. The probability for tunneling to a white hole is proportional to t2e−2S where t is the age of the black hole and S is the entropy of one black hole.

Wednesday, September 21
Clifford Johnson, USC
Title: Random Matrix Spectroscopy and Quantum Gravity
Abstract: It is argued that in order to fully interpret the meaning of random matrix model formulations of JT gravity and related 2D gravity models, it is essential to have a fully non-perturbative formulation. Rather than supply an ensemble dual, as is so often stated (with puzzling consequences), the RMM is instead a natural Wignerian toolbox for understanding the properties of the 1D holographic dual, in particular the discrete black hole spectrum implied by the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy. Within this framework, black hole thermodynamics, as well as the emergence of wormholes, are simply understood. New analytic results for the properties of the ground state distribution function are also presented. It is a gravitational analogue of the Tracy-Widom distribution.

Wednesday, September 28
 Ying-Hsuan Lin, Harvard
Title: Words to describe a black hole
Abstract: We revamp the constructive enumeration of 1/16-BPS states in the maximally supersymmetric Yang-Mills in four-dimensions, and search for ones that are not of multi-graviton form.  A handful of such states are found for gauge group SU(2) at relatively high energies, resolving a decade-old enigma.  Along the way, we clarify various subtleties in the literature, and prove a non-renormalization theorem about the exactness of the cohomological enumeration in perturbation theory.  We point out a giant-graviton-like feature in our results, and envision that a deep analysis of our data will elucidate fundamental properties of black hole microstates.

Wednesday, October 5
Indranil Halder, Harvard University
Title: Counting stringy microstates of blackholes and beyond
In the first part of the talk we will consider bosonic string theory on AdS₃ supported by Kalb-Ramond flux. It is well known that the α′ exact worldsheet theory is described by the SL(2,R) WZW model. We’ll present an α′ exact dual description involving a winding condensate on a free theory background. We give the explicit map of vertex operators for normalizable states on both sides of the duality and demonstrate the equivalence of their two and three point functions by direct computation. The duality is of strong-weak nature in α′ making the winding description to be very “close” to the spacetime CFT – we hope that this woulds shed lights on ER=EPR when the modular invariance of the spacetime CFT is taken into account. In the second part of the talk, we will look into flat space M-theory on quintic and discuss counting super-symmetric blackhole and blackring microstates using the help of topological strings. In particular we will see an interpretation of topological stings Ward identities in terms of unitarity of the superstring scattering amplitudes.

Wednesday, October 12 (Zoom)
Marc Henneaux, Université libre de Bruxelles
Title: Description of the BMS symmetry at Spatial infinity
Abstract: The asymptotic structure of gravity in the asymptotically flat case will be described in four and higher spacetime dimensions by making central use of the Hamiltonian formalism. The crucial distinction between “proper” and “improper” gauge transformations will be stressed. How the relevant infinite-dimensional asymptotic symmetry group (BMS group) emerges at spatial infinity will be explained. Non-linear structures which appear in five (and higher) spacetime dimensions will also be mentioned.

Wednesday, October 19
Elena Giorgi, Columbia University
Title: Black Hole Stability Problems in GR
Abstract:  In this talk, I will give an overview of the stability problems for black hole solutions, starting with the mode stability results in black hole perturbation theory in the 80’s to more recent mathematical proofs, as the linear and the fully non-linear stability of black hole solutions require new mathematical techniques. Finally, I will present some aspects of our recent proof with Klainerman and Szeftel of the non-linear stability of the slowly rotating Kerr black hole. 

Wednesday, October 26
Brianna Grado-White, Brandeis University
Title:  Minimax Surfaces and Holographic Entropy Inequalities
Abstract: Entanglement entropy plays a key role in our understanding of bulk emergence in AdS/CFT. In this talk, I will review a recent reformulation from Headrick and Hubeny of the Hubeny-Rangamani-Takayanagi formula for covariant holographic entanglement entropy. This minimax formula involves finding certain maximal area surfaces living on a timelike hypersurface, then minimizing over the set of all such hypersurfaces. Here, I will discuss various new properties for minimax surfaces, including a new result for covariant holographic entanglement entropy: namely, that any entanglement entropy inequality satisfied by static spacetimes will be satisfied by dynamical spacetimes as well.

Wednesday, November 2
Severin Lüst, Harvard
Title: Holography and the KKLT Scenario
Abstract: The KKLT scenario, one of the few ideas to realize dS vacua in string theory, consists of two steps: the first involves the construction of a supersymmetric AdS vacuum with a small negative cosmological constant, and the second involves breaking supersymmetry and uplifting the energy to achieve dS. In this talk I discuss conventional holography to argue why it is not possible to complete the first step. This is obtained this by putting a bound on the central charge of the dual theory which involves branes wrapping special Lagrangian cycles in CY 4-folds. 

Wednesday, November 9
Miguel Montero, Harvard
Title: The Dark Dimension
Abstract: We will see how the Emergent String Conjecture, together with general assumptions about the asymptotic structure of scalar potentials in string theory and experimental observations suggest that, if our universe is to sit close to a weakly coupled corner in the string landscape, there should be a single large extra dimension of roughly micrometer size. I will describe some possible experimental signatures of this scenario that might be testable in the near future. A failure to detect them would suggest that, if our Universe is described by a string theory vacuum, it is strongly coupled.

*Friday, November 18 at 10am
Miranda Cheng, University of Amsterdam
Title: State Counting and Topology with Quantum Modular Forms
Abstract: Quantum modular forms are functions with delicate modular properties that generalize mock modular forms.  The q-series 3-manifold invariants provide new insights and computational tools in 3-manifold topology, 3d SQFT, and M-theory compactifications. In this talk I will survey the relation between these q-series  invariants and quantum modular forms.
*Note different day and time for this week only

Wednesday, November 30
Luca Iliesiu
Title: Black hole microstate counting from the gravitational path integral
Abstract: Reproducing the integer count of black hole micro-states from the gravitational path integral is an important problem in quantum gravity. In this paper, we show that, by using supersymmetric localization, the gravitational path integral for 1/16-BPS black holes in supergravity reproduces the index obtained in the string theory construction of such black holes, including all non-perturbatively suppressed geometries. A more refined argument then shows that, not only the black hole index but also the total number of black hole microstates within an energy window above extremality that is polynomially suppressed in the charges also matches this string theory index. To achieve such a match, we compute the one-loop determinant arising in the localization calculation for all N=2 supergravity supermultiplets in the N=8 gravity supermultiplet. Furthermore, we carefully account for the contribution of boundary zero-modes, which can be seen as arising from the zero-temperature limit of the N=4 super-Schwarzian, and show that performing the exact path integral over such modes provides a critical contribution needed for the match to be achieved.

December 7

December 14
Timo Weigand, DESY (Zoom)
Title and abstract TBA

Wednesday, February 2
Jordan Cotler, Harvard
Title: Quantum space, time, and memory 
Abstract: I will explain new, surprising findings about space and time in both quantum gravity and quantum information.  In quantum gravity, I will show how novel non-perturbative effects can serve as incisive probes of the quantum microstructure of black holes and their connection to random matrix theory.  For universes with a positive cosmological constant, I will use similar tools to uncover mechanisms for the emergence of space and time from a more fundamental description.  In the second part of the talk, I will establish how being bounded in space and time constrains our ability to learn about nature through experiments.  I will introduce new tools in quantum information and use them to prove strong spacetime tradeoffs for experiments leveraging a bounded “quantum memory”.  These tradeoffs have recently been corroborated experimentally.

Wednesday, February 9
Julian Munoz, Harvard
Title: New Physics at Cosmic Dawn
Abstract: The last decades have firmly established the existence of a dark sector of our universe. Yet, details of its particle content have thus far evaded all laboratory probes. In this talk I will describe how the cosmic-dawn era, during which the first galaxies formed, holds a wealth of information about dark matter and other new physics. The next decade will see detailed maps of this era with both 21-cm and space telescopes. I will explain how to use the upcoming data to test the particle nature of dark matter by measuring its clustering at smaller scales—and earlier times—than ever before. Moreover, I will introduce a new standard ruler to measure the energy content of our cosmos during unexplored eras. These studies pave the way to discovering new physics with the upcoming trove of cosmic dawn data, and provide us with a unique window to test the particle content of our universe.

Wednesday, February 16

Wednesday, February 23
Leonard Susskind, Stanford University
Title: Entanglement and Chaos in de Sitter Space
Abstract: Depending on time limitations I’ll discuss the rules of entanglement in de Sitter space, the reasons for believing that scrambling and complexity growth are hyper-fast, and the conjecture that the double-scaled limit of SYK has hyperfast behavior.

Wednesday, March 2
Sridip Pal, Institute for Advanced Study
Title: Automorphic Spectra and the Conformal Bootstrap
Abstract: We point out that the spectral geometry of hyperbolic manifolds provides a remarkably precise model of the modern conformal bootstrap. As an application, we use conformal bootstrap techniques to derive rigorous computer-assisted upper bounds on the lowest positive eigenvalue $\lambda_1(X)$ of theLaplace-Beltrami operator on closed hyperbolic surfaces and 2-orbifolds $X$. In a number of notable cases, our bounds are nearly saturated by known surfaces and orbifolds. For instance, our bound on all genus-2 surfaces $X$ is $\lambda_1(X)\leq 3.8388976481$, while the Bolza surface has $\lambda_1(X)\approx 3.838887258$. 

Wednesday, March 9
Edward Witten (IAS)
Title: No Ensemble Averaging Below the Black Hole Threshold
Abstract: Since early days of the AdS/CFT correspondence, there has been a puzzle of how to interpret Euclidean signature amplitudes computed using a connected bulk manifold with disconnected boundary.   A possible interpretation involves the idea that a bulk theory with gravity is actually dual to an ensemble of boundary theories, but in important examples of the duality no ensemble is available.   I will sharpen the puzzle by showing that an important class of “sub-threshold” observables, involving states that are not black holes, is not subject to any apparent ensemble averaging. Why then are black hole amplitudes subject to apparent ensemble averaging?   I will claim that this reflects the chaos of black hole physics and the fact that the black hole Hilbert space does not have a large N limit.   (Based on arXiv:2202.01372 with J.-M. Schlenker.)

Wednesday, March 16
Javier Magan, University of Pennsylvania
Title: Charged density of states in QFT from entropic certainties
Abstract: In this talk we will describe a proof of a recent conjecture by Harlow and Ooguri concerning a universal formula for the charged density of states at high energies in QFT’s  with finite-group global symmetries. To this end we will first present a recent new theorem concerning relative entropy for non-commuting algebras. This relation is called the certainty principle due to its intimate connection with quantum complementarity. We will remark that although the immediate application of this result concerns charged states, the origin and physics of such density can be understood by looking at the vacuum neutral sector only. We will also comment on certain generalizations.

Wednesday, March 23, Spring Break (no seminar)

Wednesday, March 30
Adam Levine, Institute for Advanced Study
Title: On encoding beyond the cosmological horizon
Abstract: Black hole event horizons and cosmological event horizons share many properties, making it natural to ask whether our recent advances in understanding black holes generalize to cosmology. To this end, we discuss a paradox that occurs if observers can access what lies beyond their cosmological horizon in the same way that they can access what lies beyond a black hole horizon. In particular, distinct observers with distinct horizons may encode the same portion of spacetime, violating the no-cloning theorem of quantum mechanics. This paradox is due precisely to the observer-dependence of the cosmological horizon — the sharpest difference from a black hole horizon — although we will argue that the gravity path integral avoids the paradox in controlled examples. We also comment on how our construction might be utilized to encode inflating universes in a dual quantum system.

**Starting April 6, all String/Gravity Theory seminars will start at 2:30pm**

Wednesday, April 6
Scott Collier, Princeton
Title: Harnessing S-duality in N=4 SYM and supergravity as SL(2,Z)-averaged strings
Abstract: I will describe an approach to extracting the physical consequences of S-duality of four-dimensional N = 4 super Yang-Mills (SYM) and its string theory dual based on SL(2,Z) spectral theory. I will show that processing S-duality in this way leads to strong consequences for the CFT data, both perturbatively and non-perturbatively in all parameters. In large-N limits, I will argue for the existence and scaling of non-perturbative effects, both at large N and at strong ‘t Hooft coupling. An elegant benchmark for these techniques is a certain integrated stress-tensor multiplet four-point function, whose form I will elucidate. I will explain how the ensemble average of CFT observables over the N = 4 supersymmetric conformal manifold with respect to the Zamolodchikov measure is cleanly isolated by the spectral decomposition, and will show that the large-N limit of the ensemble average is equal to the strong-coupling limit of the observable in the planar theory, which is its value in type IIB supergravity on AdS_5 x S^5. This embeds an emergent averaged holographic duality within the conventional holographic paradigm.

Wednesday, April 13
Pavel Kovtun​, University of Victoria
Title: Hydrodynamics beyond hydrodynamics
Abstract: In this talk, I will discuss two questions. First, do the equations of relativistic hydrodynamics make sense? And second, how universal are the long-distance, late-time predictions of classical hydrodynamics?

Wednesday, April 20
Clifford V. Johnson, University of Southern California
Title: Embracing both Wigner and `t Hooft in matrix models of 2D gravity
Abstract: The main purpose of this talk is to urge us to more carefully consider how random matrix models capture theories of 2D gravity. The key is to emphasize a Wignerian view alongside the more standard ’t Hooftian approach used in this area. A central observation is that without doing so, the usual narratives about the physics are incomplete. The  results prompt a proposal for an overhaul of how we think about  the subject, and an immediate consequence is a new proposed duality that makes holography for JT gravity (and probably other 2D gravities) much more like traditional holography in other dimensions. This provides a simple solution to the factorization puzzle, and opens up some interesting avenues of research.

Wednesday, April 27
Beatrix Muehlmann, McGill University
Title: Timelike Liouville Theory and the cosmological horizon
Abstract: While the Euclidean two-dimensional gravitational path integral is in general highly fluctuating, it admits a semiclassical two-sphere saddle if coupled to a matter CFT with large and positive central charge. In Weyl gauge this gravity theory is known as timelike Liouville theory, and is conjectured to be a non-unitary two-dimensional CFT. I will discuss the semiclassical computation of the timelike Liouville sphere partition function around the two-sphere saddle and propose an all-loop order result. If time allows I will report on ongoing work studying higher genus contributions as well as a supersymmetric extension of timelike Liouville theory. Since the two-sphere is the geometry of Euclidean two-dimensional de Sitter space our discussion is tied to the conjecture of Gibbons-Hawking, according to which the dS entropy is encoded in the Euclidean gravitational path integral over compact manifolds.

Wednesday, May 4 (NOTE: Talk will be at 9am instead of 3pm)
Yuji Okawa, Tokyo University
Title: Correlation functions of scalar field theories from homotopy algebras
Abstract: When actions are written in terms of homotopy algebras such as $A_\infty$ algebras and $L_\infty$ algebras, expressions of on-shell scattering amplitudes in perturbation theory are universal for both string field theories and ordinary field theories. We thus expect that homotopy algebras can be useful in gaining insights into quantum aspects of string field theories from ordinary field theories. In addition to on-shell scattering amplitudes we find that correlation functions can also be described in terms of homotopy algebras, and in this talk we explain explicit expressions for correlation functions of scalar field theories using quantum $A_\infty$ algebras presented in arXiv:2203.05366. Then we further discuss the application to the renormalization group.

September 8
Jordan Cotler, Harvard
Title: Black hole microstate statistics from Euclidean wormholes

September 15
Geoff Penington, Berkeley
Title:  Pythons and Tensor Networks are a Few of My Favorite Things
Abstract: I’ll solve quantum gravity with pythons and/or tensor networks.

September 22
 Daniel Mayerson, IPhT, Saclay
Title: Fuzzball Shadows: Emergent Horizons from Microstructure
Abstract: The advent of black hole imaging has opened a new window into probing the horizon scale of black holes. An important question is whether string theory results for black hole physics can predict interesting and observable features that current and future experiments can probe. I will discuss the physical properties of four-dimensional, string-theoretical, horizonless “fuzzball” geometries by means of imaging their shadows. Their microstructure traps light rays straying near the would-be horizon on long-lived, highly redshifted chaotic orbits. In fuzzballs sufficiently near the scaling limit this creates a shadow much like that of a black hole, while avoiding the paradoxes associated with an event horizon. Finally, I will consider comparing such fuzzball images to their black hole counterparts. In particular, detailed measurements of higher order photon rings have the potential to discriminate between fuzzballs and black holes in future observations.

September 29
Ted Erler, CEICO (remote)
Title: Relating covariant and lightcone string field theories
Abstract: We describe recent work which aims to construct a field transformation which relates Witten’s open bosonic string field theory and the lightcone string field theory of Kaku and Kikkawa.

October 6
Ashoke Sen, Harish-Chandra Institute (remote)
Title: D-instanton amplitudes in string theory
Abstract: I shall review the problems in computing D-instanton
contribution to string amplitudes using the usual world-sheet methods, and
recent progress in overcoming these difficulties using insights from
string field theory.

Tuesday, October 12
Jennifer Lin, Oxford (remote)
Title: A new look at the gravitational entropy formula
Abstract: The Ryu-Takayanagi formula and its generalizations have led to a surprising amount of progress in our understanding of quantum gravity in the last fifteen years, culminating in the recent derivation of the Page curve in toy models of evaporating black holes.  However, we still don’t understand whythese formulas are true from a canonical point of view. In this talk, I will attempt to make progress on this problem by developing an analogy between gravitational entropy formulas in low-dimensional examples of holography and similar-looking formulas that have appeared in the study of entanglement entropy in emergent gauge theories. This talk will be based on 1807.06575, 2107.11872, and 2107.12634.

October 20
Daniel Jafferis, Harvard
Title: TBA

October 27
Ben Heidenreich, Amherst (remote)
Title: TBA

November 3
Fabian Ruehle, Northeastern University
Title: A Physics and a Math Conjecture
Abstract: Recently, many conjectures about the nature of phenomena that can or cannot arise in String Theory or Quantum Gravity have been put forward. One of them, the Swampland Distance Conjecture, relates geodesic motion in the moduli space of compactifications to a change in the spectrum of the theory. Motivated by this, we study geodesics in the Kähler or vector moduli space of Calabi-Yau threefolds described as hypersurfaces or complete intersections in projective or toric ambient spaces. We discuss how geometric flop transitions in these spaces can lead to isomorphic or non-isomorphic Calabi-Yau manifolds. We find that there exist infinite flop chains of isomorphic geometries, but only a finite number of flops to inequivalent manifolds. The latter is expected based on the swampland distance conjecture, and mathematically fits to a conjecture due to Kawamata and Morrison. We also present a classification and analytic solution of all geodesics in 2D (vector) moduli spaces of Calabi-Yau threefolds. The talk is based on 2104.03325 and  2108.10323.

November 9 (Note–this is a Tuesday seminar at 12:15)
Herman Verlinde, Princeton
Title:  Chaos in Celestial CFT
Abstract: Celestial holography proposes that scattering in flat spacetime is captured by a CFT living on the celestial sphere.  I argue that the Hilbert space of celestial CFT can be identified with the Hilbert space of an accelerating Rindler observer in the bulk. Rindler particles exhibit Lyapunov behavior when shockwaves shift the observer horizon.  I show how this chaotic behavior is encoded in celestial CFT, giving evidence that it describes a maximally chaotic system. I comment on how particles can cross the Rindler horizon via a GWJ quantum teleportation protocol.

November 17
Brian Swingle, Brandeis
Title: Effective Field Theory of Chaotic Spectral Correlations
Abstract: Ensembles of quantum chaotic systems are expected to exhibit random matrix universality in their energy spectrum. The presence of this universality can be diagnosed by looking for a linear in time ‘ramp’ in the spectral form factor, but for realistic systems this feature is typically only visible after a sufficiently long time. Given the wide prevalence of this random matrix behavior, it is natural to ask for an effective field theory which predicts the ramp and computes corrections to it arising from physical constraints. I will present such an effective theory based on fluctuating hydrodynamics.

December 1
Xi Yin, Harvard
Title: Some aspects of D-instantons in string theories
Abstract:  I will discuss the effect of D-instantons in type IIB superstring theory, as well as in the non-critical type 0B string theory. I will present new tests of dualities, some previously unknown pieces of string amplitudes, and comment on the role of string field theory. This is based on upcoming works with Agmon, Balthazar, Cho, and Rodriguez.​

February 24
Roberto Emparan
Title: Quantum BTZ black hole

March 3
Kenneth Intriligator, UCSD
Title: RG flows, anomalies, and 2-group global symmetries in 4d and 6d

March 10
Simeon Hellerman, IPMU Tokyo
Title: Quantum Information Theory of the Gravitational Anomaly

March 17
Dieter Luest, LMU Munich
Title: The swampland at a large number of space-time dimensions

March 24
Yasunori Lee, IPMU
Title: Some comments on 6d global gauge anomalies

March 31
Edgar Shaghoulian

April 7
Jorrit Kruthoff, Stanford
Title: Classical aspects of black hole interiors

April 14
Emily Nardoni, UCLA
Title: From SU(N) Seiberg-Witten Theory to Adjoint QCD

April 21
Suvrat Raju, ICTS

April 28
Alejandra Castro

May 5
Xiaoliang Qi, Stanford
Title: Entanglement island, miracle operators and the firewall

May 12
Dan Freed, UT Austin​​

May 19
Sergio Hernandez–Cuenca , UCSB