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Homework Help: String Theory Query

  1. Dec 11, 2011 #1
    I'm unsure if this is the right place for this question or not but hopefully I'll still get some helpful responses even if I'm in the wrong place!

    I was discussing a potential string theory research project with a potential supervisor and he was asking me whether I was more interested in "formal aspects" or applied things?

    To be honest, I don't really know the difference! I assume that formal aspects is essentially studying the theory i.e. the maths behind string theory (so this would be a lot of quantum field theory and group theory for the symmetries etc and hopefully some general relativity as well?)

    Would applied things be for example, the use of string theory in describing black holes? I guess this would involve more general relativity than the first one? I'd like to do my project in this area but would like as much general relativity as possible - therefore, my questions are:

    (i) Is my understanding of formal aspects and applied aspects correct?
    (ii) Which would allow me to use more General Relativity?

    Thanks very much for your replies!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 12, 2011 #2


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    Science Advisor

    I'm not sure why you've bothered to post this here -- it seems you know what you want to do your project on, why not just tell your professor this? What does it matter the distinction applied/formal when you know much more specifically what you want to do?

    But since I can't help but address the question briefly...

    I'd say the formal aspects of a theory are the symmetries, how the theory is constructed, the difficulties that go into that part of it. In general, just the mathematical structure of the problem. E.g. everything up until you get an action and derive equations of motion, constraints. Applied stuff, in my opinion, would be essentially taking the action (eom) as given, and going forwards from there to describe some phenomenon.
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