Cumrun Vafa

Harvard University

Primary Section: 13, Physics
Secondary Section: 11, Mathematics
Membership Type: Member (elected 2009)

Research Interests

My primary area of research is string theory. String theory, a subject that is about four decades old, is at the center of efforts by theoretical physicists to find a unified fundamental quantum theory of nature. String theory provides a framework to unify everything we know about nature, including all particles and the forces between them, in a consistent quantum theory. Such an all-encompassing theory requires a tremendous amount of mathematical technology. It is therefore not surprising that string theory is at the cross roads of many fields, including mathematics, particle phenomenology and astrophysics. My research has involved essentially all these aspects. I have worked on topological strings, trying to elucidate some new mathematics originating from string theory (notably in my work on mirror symmetry) and using these techniques to uncover some of the mysteries of black holes, particularly the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy. I have also applied these ideas to particle theories by geometrically engineering quantum field theories, as well as solving the strong coupling dynamics of confining theories (using large N matrix model technology) and geometrizing string theory defects (in a limit of string theory known as F-theory). My recent work involves applying these ideas to come up with stringy predictions about what the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN may potentially discover in the near future.

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