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Admissions Applying to Study CFT in Graduate School

  1. Jul 18, 2016 #1
    I am going to be applying to graduate programs for theory in the fall, and after discussing research with a few of my professors, my top research topic choice is Conformal Field Theories. Are CFT's a large enough area of study to be the focus of research for a graduate student? Also, will saying that I want to study CFT's in my applications be too specific/restrictive? Would it be better to just say that I want to study formal field theories?
    Thanks for any help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2016 #2


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    CFTs are used in many different contexts like string theory, more general field theoretic areas, in condensed matter in critical systems or things like FQHE (the edge state can be described by a 1+1D CFT and provides an example of a Kac Moody algebra), and of course in the context of gauge/gravity duality for strongly coupled CFTs. One note about the last one though is that many times you don't really know the actual CFT you are studying since you construct the gravity dual bottom up with symmetries. Nevertheless conformal symmetry gives you constraints on things like correlation functions.

    So instead of saying you want to studying CFTs, you should try to figure out where you lie on this spectrum. The techniques though turn out to be very similar. It seems like you are most interested in the formal field theory aspect. Most of the people studying CFT from this perspective are/were string theorists, although a lot of CMT people have been doing a lot of more exotic work in the field. In fact, many in the former group have become interested in the latter.

    Which country are you in?
  4. Jul 20, 2016 #3
    Thanks so much for your response.
    I am in the United States.
    Could you go a bit more into the what kind of work CMT people are doing in formal field theories?
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