10.4 Summary of rank-1 theories

10.4.1 Argyres-Douglas CFTs from SU(2) with flavors

So far we studied the Argyres-Douglas CFTs which were obtained by special limits of SU(2) gauge theories with Nf = 1, 2, 3 flavors. The data of these and other related CFTs are summarized in Table 10.1. The Argyres-Douglas CFTs are the first three rows of the table. The fourth row is for the SU(2) theory with Nf = 4 massless flavors. The next two rows are for slightly different classes of theories. Namely, if we consider SU(2) theory with more than 4 flavors or U(1) theory with nonzero charged hypermultiplets, they are infrared free, see (8.1.5) and (8.3.13). They appeared repeatedly as a local behavior close to a singularity on the u-plane.

In Table 10.1 we also tabulated the dimension of the Higgs branch. Let us quickly recall how they are obtained. We know ADNf=1(SU(2)) does not have one, since its parent theory SU(2) with Nf = 1 does not have one either. For ADNf=2(SU(2)), we consider SU(2) with Nf = 2 with a U(1) mass term. Then the Higgs branch is 22, whose quaternionic dimension is 1. For ADNf=3(SU(2)), we consider SU(2) with Nf = 3. With a U(1) mass term, its Higgs branch can be found by studying a point u = μ12 = μ22 = μ32 in a weakly-coupled theory. The physics there is just U(1) with three charged hypermultiplets, with the Higgs branch of quaternionic dimension 2. For free SU(2) theory with Nf 4 flavors, the quaternionic dimension is just 2Nf dim SU(2), and similarly for U(1) theory with N flavors it is given just by N dim U(1). One funny feature is that we see

dim (Higgs branch) = h(flavor symmetry) 1 (10.4.1)

for the first six rows, where h(G) is the dual Coxeter number, which is also a contribution to the one-loop running C(adj) from the adjoint representation of G. These theories have just one Coulomb branch modulus, and the low-energy theory on a generic point on the Coulomb branch is just a free U(1) theory. Such theories are called rank-1.

name monodromy flavor [u] # dim (Higgs) ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ADNf=1(SU(2)) 1 11 0 65 2 ADNf=2(SU(2)) 0 11 0 SU(2) 43 3 1 ADNf=3(SU(2)) 0 1 1 1 SU(3) 32 4 2 SU(2)Nf = 4 1 0 0 1 SO(8) 2 6 5 ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ SU(2)Nf > 4 14 Nf 0 1 SO(2Nf) Nf + 2 2Nf 3 U(1)withNflavors 1N 0 1 SU(N) N N 1 ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ MN(E6) 11 1 0 E6 3 8 11 MN(E7) 01 1 0 E7 4 9 17 MN(E8) 01 1 1 E8 6 10 29

Table 10.1: Data of various rank-1 CFTs. # is the number of singularities colliding at u = 0, and dim Higgs is the quaternionic dimension of the Higgs branch, i.e. the real dimension 4.

Γ n 𝒟̂n2 𝒯̂𝒪̂̂ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ GΓSU(n)SO(2n) E6 E7 E8

Table 10.2: Finite subgroups Γ of SU(2) and simply-laced Lie groups GΓ. Here, 𝒟n is the dihedral group acting on the regular n-gon, 𝒯, 𝒪, , are the tetra-, octa-, and icosahedral groups, and the hat above them are the lift from SO(3) to SU(2). The resulting group 𝒯̂ is called the binary tetrahedral group, for example.

10.4.2 Exceptional theories of Minahan-Nemeschansky

We have not discussed the theories listed in the remaining three rows. One way to motivate them is to refer to a classical mathematical result of Kodaira. At a given point on the u-plane, we have the ultraviolet curve C and the Seiberg-Witten curve Σ. The curve Σ is a torus, whose shape is parameterized by its complex structure τ, which depend holomophically on u. Therefore we have a fibration of torus over the complex plane with the coordinate u. The u-plane together with the fiber Σ forms a complex two-dimensional space X.

Kodaira classified the possible types of singularities of such fibrations, and the first six rows of Table 10.1 is an exact copy of part of that classification. The terminologies are of course different, since he was a mathematician and we are studying 𝒩=2 gauge theories. Kodaira’s classification had three more rows in addition to the first six rows, which motivated people that there should be three additional theories corresponding to them. The Seiberg-Witten curves for these were constructed first by Minahan and Nemeschansky in [5960].

In the mathematical language, a singularity in the torus fibration creates a singularity in the total space X of complex dimension two. It is locally of the form 2Γ where Γ is a finite subgroup of SU(2). They have a natural ADE classification, and we can associate a Lie group GΓ, see Table 10.2.

Mathematicians associate this group GΓ purely mathematically to a torus fibration, and we see that they are exactly the flavor symmetries of the gauge theories, at least to the first six. Mathematicians have associated exceptional groups E6,7,8 to the last three cases. It was thus quite tempting that the putative theories which correspond to the last three rows have these exceptional groups as the flavor symmetries. From the feature (10.4.1) relating the flavor symmetry and the dimension of the Higgs branch, it is also tempting to guess the dimension of the Higgs branch of these theories. We call these CFTs MN(E6), MN(E7) and MN(E8), respectively.

Note that it is rather hard to have an exceptional flavor symmetry in a classical Lagrangian 𝒩=2 theory. We already know a general form of the Lagrangian: the superpotential as an 𝒩=1 theory is forced to be

iQiΦQ̃i, (10.4.2)

and it is possible to check explicitly that the flavor symmetry visible in the ultraviolet is a product of SU, SO and Sp groups. Therefore, if the exceptional symmetries are to appear, they need to arise via strong-coupling effects. Once the reader comes to Sec. 12.4 of this note, s/he will find exactly how this happens in the field theory setting.

Another way to construct the theories listed in the table uniformly is to use Type IIB string theory and its non-perturbative version F-theory. This approach originates in [5] for SU(2) with four flavors. For the general case, see e.g. [61]. The Seiberg-Witten curves of these rank-1 theories can be constructed most uniformly in this approach, see e.g. [62].

The type IIB string theory is ten-dimensional, and it has objects called 7-branes and 3-branes, where a p-brane extends along p spatial direction and one time direction. Let us say the spacetime is of the form

1, 3 × 2 × 4. (10.4.3)

Put a 7-brane in the subspace

1, 3 ×{0}× 4 (10.4.4)

and a D3-brane in the subspace

1, 3 ×{u}×{0}. (10.4.5)

There are various types of 7-branes in F-theory, corresponding to Kodaira’s classification. They can all be obtained by taking a number of the simplest of the 7-branes, called (p,q) 7-branes, separated along the 2 direction and collapsing them at one point. Then the low-energy theory on the D3-brane gives the corresponding 𝒩=2 theories.

Due to its tension, one (p,q) 7-brane creates deficit angles π6. With n (p,q) 7-branes collapsed to a point, the remaining angle is 1 n12 of 2π. From this the scaling dimension of u can be computed to be

u = 12 12 n, (10.4.6)

which explains an interesting pattern in Table 10.1. These 7-branes obtained by collapsing a number of (p,q) 7-branes has a gauge symmetry F living on its eight-dimensional worldvolume. From the point of view, this gauge symmetry F on the 7-brane becomes a flavor symmetry. The D3-brane can be absorbed into this 7-brane as an instanton in the internal 4 direction of (10.4.4). Then, the Higgs branch should be given by the one instanton moduli space of the group F. The k-instanton moduli space of a group F has quaternionic dimension kh(F) 1, explaining the relation (10.4.1).

10.4.3 Newer rank-1 theories

So far we saw that the structure of rank-1 theories closely follows that of the Kodaira classification, listed in Table 10.1. Before going further, it should be mentioned that there are even more rank-1 theories, first found through the analysis of S-dualities of various gauge theories in [63]. Their properties are reviewed from the point of view of the 6d construction in Sec. 7 of [64].