Mikhail Shifman

University of Minnesota

Primary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member (elected 2018)


Mikhail Shifman is a theoretical physicist recognized for his basic contributions to quantum chromodynamics, the theory of strong interactions, and to understanding of supersymmetric gauge dynamics. The most important results due to M. Shifman  include the discovery of the penguin mechanism in the flavor-changing weak decays (1974); introduction of the gluon condensate and development of the SVZ sum rules relating properties of the low-lying hadronic states to the vacuum condensates; construction of the invisible axion; first exact results in supersymmetric Yang-Mills theories (NSVZ beta function, gluino condensate,etc); heavy quark theory based on the operator product expansion; critical domain walls (D-brane analogs) in super-Yang-Mills; non-perturbative (exact) planar equivalence between super-Yang-Mills and orientifold non-supersymmetric theories (2003); non-Abelian vortex strings and confined monopoles. His paper with A. Vainshtein and Zakharov on the SVZ sum rules is among the all-time top cited papers in high-energy physics.

Shifman was born in Riga, Latvia in 1949, and grew up in Moscow, Russia. He graduated from Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology in 1972, and received his PhD from the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics (Moscow, 1976). He received a number of international prizes and awards, including the 2016 Dirac Medal from the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics. Mikhail Shifman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Mikhail Shifman’s research encompasses a broad spectrum of issues related to hadronic physics and gauge field theories at strong coupling, including supersymmetric field theories in various dimensions; supersymmetric solitons (e.g. vortex strings) and solitons at the interface of high energy physics and condensed matter. Due to a mysterious property of color confinement, these are the most intriguing dynamical systems in the quantum world. Crucial non-pertubative phenomena in these theories are very rich. Currently the focus of Shifman’s research is the study of extended objects (topological defects) in Yang-Mills theories with or without supersymmetry. In the former case the power of supersymmetry allows one to obtain exact results. Some of them have numerous and far-reaching applications.

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