# Central charge

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In theoretical physics, a central charge is an operator Z that commutes with all the other symmetry operators. The adjective "central" refers to the center of the symmetry group—the subgroup of elements that commute with all other elements of the original group—often embedded within a Lie algebra. In some cases, such as two-dimensional conformal field theory, a central charge may also commute with all of the other operators, including operators that are not symmetry generators. Theoretical physics is a branch of physics that employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. This is in contrast to experimental physics, which uses experimental tools to probe these phenomena.

In mathematics, an operator is generally a mapping that acts on elements of a space to produce other elements of the same space. The most common operators are linear maps, which act on vector spaces. However, when using "linear operator" instead of "linear map", mathematicians often mean actions on vector spaces of functions, which also preserve other properties, such as continuity. For example, differentiation and indefinite integration are linear operators; operators that are built from them are called differential operators, integral operators or integro-differential operators. In abstract algebra, the center of a group, G, is the set of elements that commute with every element of G. It is denoted Z(G), from German Zentrum, meaning center. In set-builder notation,

## Overview

More precisely, the central charge is the charge that corresponds, by Noether's theorem, to the center of the central extension of the symmetry group.

In physics, a charge may refer to one of many different quantities, such as the electric charge in electromagnetism or the color charge in quantum chromodynamics. Charges correspond to the time-invariant generators of a symmetry group, and specifically, to the generators that commute with the Hamiltonian. Charges are often denoted by the letter Q, and so the invariance of the charge corresponds to the vanishing commutator , where H is the Hamiltonian. Thus, charges are associated with conserved quantum numbers; these are the eigenvalues q of the generator Q. Noether's (first) theorem states that every differentiable symmetry of the action of a physical system has a corresponding conservation law. The theorem was proven by mathematician Emmy Noether in 1915 and published in 1918, after a special case was proven by E. Cosserat & F. Cosserat in 1909. The action of a physical system is the integral over time of a Lagrangian function, from which the system's behavior can be determined by the principle of least action. This theorem only applies to continuous and smooth symmetries over physical space.

In theories with supersymmetry, this definition can be generalized to include supergroups and Lie superalgebras. A central charge is any operator which commutes with all the other supersymmetry generators. Theories with extended supersymmetry typically have many operators of this kind. In string theory, in the first quantized formalism, these operators also have the interpretation of winding numbers (topological quantum numbers) of various strings and branes. In particle physics, supersymmetry (SUSY) is a principle that proposes a relationship between two basic classes of elementary particles: bosons, which have an integer-valued spin, and fermions, which have a half-integer spin. A type of spacetime symmetry, supersymmetry is a possible candidate for undiscovered particle physics, and seen as an elegant solution to many current problems in particle physics if confirmed correct, which could resolve various areas where current theories are believed to be incomplete. A supersymmetrical extension to the Standard Model would resolve major hierarchy problems within gauge theory, by guaranteeing that quadratic divergences of all orders will cancel out in perturbation theory.

The concept of supergroup is a generalization of that of group. In other words, every supergroup carries a natural group structure, but there may be more than one way to structure a given group as a supergroup. A supergroup is like a Lie group in that there is a well defined notion of smooth function defined on them. However the functions may have even and odd parts. Moreover, a supergroup has a super Lie algebra which plays a role similar to that of a Lie algebra for Lie groups in that they determine most of the representation theory and which is the starting point for classification.

In mathematics, a Lie superalgebra is a generalisation of a Lie algebra to include a Z2-grading. Lie superalgebras are important in theoretical physics where they are used to describe the mathematics of supersymmetry. In most of these theories, the even elements of the superalgebra correspond to bosons and odd elements to fermions.

In conformal field theory, the central charge is a c-number (commutes with every other operator) term that appears in the commutator of two components of the stress–energy tensor.

A conformal field theory (CFT) is a quantum field theory that is invariant under conformal transformations. In two dimensions, there is an infinite-dimensional algebra of local conformal transformations, and conformal field theories can sometimes be exactly solved or classified.

The term Number C is an old nomenclature used by Paul Dirac which refers to real and complex numbers. It is used to distinguish from operators in quantum mechanics. The stress–energy tensor, sometimes stress–energy–momentum tensor or energy–momentum tensor, is a tensor quantity in physics that describes the density and flux of energy and momentum in spacetime, generalizing the stress tensor of Newtonian physics. It is an attribute of matter, radiation, and non-gravitational force fields. The stress–energy tensor is the source of the gravitational field in the Einstein field equations of general relativity, just as mass density is the source of such a field in Newtonian gravity.

## Related Research Articles In theoretical physics, quantum field theory (QFT) is a theoretical framework that combines classical field theory, special relativity, and quantum mechanics and is used to construct physical models of subatomic particles and quasiparticles.

In mathematics, a Casimir element is a distinguished element of the center of the universal enveloping algebra of a Lie algebra. A prototypical example is the squared angular momentum operator, which is a Casimir element of the three-dimensional rotation group.

In particle and condensed matter physics, Goldstone bosons or Nambu–Goldstone bosons (NGBs) are bosons that appear necessarily in models exhibiting spontaneous breakdown of continuous symmetries. They were discovered by Yoichiro Nambu in the context of the BCS superconductivity mechanism, and subsequently elucidated by Jeffrey Goldstone, and systematically generalized in the context of quantum field theory.

In theoretical physics, a supercharge is a generator of supersymmetry transformations. It is an example of the general notion of a charge in physics.

In theoretical physics, a super-Poincaré algebra is an extension of the Poincaré algebra to incorporate supersymmetry, a relation between bosons and fermions. They are examples of supersymmetry algebras, and are Lie superalgebras. Thus a super-Poincaré algebra is a Z2-graded vector space with a graded Lie bracket such that the even part is a Lie algebra containing the Poincaré algebra, and the odd part is built from spinors on which there is an anticommutation relation with values in the even part.

The Coleman–Mandula theorem is a no-go theorem in theoretical physics. It states that "space-time and internal symmetries cannot be combined in any but a trivial way". Since "realistic" theories contain a mass gap, the only conserved quantities, apart from the generators of the Poincaré group, must be Lorentz scalars. In physics, a symmetry of a physical system is a physical or mathematical feature of the system that is preserved or remains unchanged under some transformation.

In theoretical physics, a primary field, also called a primary operator, or simply a primary, is a local operator in a conformal field theory which is annihilated by the part of the conformal algebra consisting of the lowering generators. From the representation theory point of view, a primary is the lowest dimension operator in a given representation of the conformal algebra. All other operators in a representation are called descendants; they can be obtained by acting on the primary with the raising generators.

In mathematical physics, a Grassmann number, named after Hermann Grassmann, is an element of the exterior algebra over the complex numbers. The special case of a 1-dimensional algebra is known as a dual number. Grassmann numbers saw an early use in physics to express a path integral representation for fermionic fields, although they are now widely used as a foundation for superspace, on which supersymmetry is constructed. In mathematics and physics, the term generator or generating set may refer to any of a number of related concepts. The underlying concept in each case is that of a smaller set of objects, together with a set of operations that can be applied to it, that result in the creation of a larger collection of objects, called the generated set. The larger set is then said to be generated by the smaller set. It is commonly the case that the generating set has a simpler set of properties than the generated set, thus making it easier to discuss and examine. It is usually the case that properties of the generating set are in some way preserved by the act of generation; likewise, the properties of the generated set are often reflected in the generating set.

In theoretical physics, the Haag–Łopuszański–Sohnius theorem shows that the possible symmetries of a consistent 4-dimensional quantum field theory do not only consist of internal symmetries and Poincaré symmetry, but can also include supersymmetry as a nontrivial extension of the Poincaré algebra. This significantly generalized the Coleman–Mandula theorem.

In theoretical physics, the R-symmetry is the symmetry transforming different supercharges in a theory with supersymmetry into each other. In the simplest case of the N=1 supersymmetry, such an R-symmetry is isomorphic to a global U(1) group or its discrete subgroup (for the Z2 subgroup it is called R-parity). For extended supersymmetry, the R-symmetry group becomes a global non-abelian group.

The concept in theoretical physics of supersymmetry can be reinterpreted in the language of noncommutative geometry and quantum groups. In particular, it involves a mild form of noncommutativity, namely supercommutativity.

In theoretical physics, a supersymmetry algebra is a mathematical formalism for describing the relation between bosons and fermions. The supersymmetry algebra contains not only the Poincaré algebra and a compact subalgebra of internal symmetries, but also contains some fermionic supercharges, transforming as a sum of N real spinor representations of the Poincaré group. Such symmetries are allowed by the Haag–Łopuszański–Sohnius theorem. When N>1 the algebra is said to have extended supersymmetry. The supersymmetry algebra is a semidirect sum of a central extension of the super-Poincaré algebra by a compact Lie algebra B of internal symmetries.

This page is a glossary of terms in string theory, including related areas such as supergravity, supersymmetry, and high energy physics. Symmetries in quantum mechanics describe features of spacetime and particles which are unchanged under some transformation, in the context of quantum mechanics, relativistic quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, and with applications in the mathematical formulation of the standard model and condensed matter physics. In general, symmetry in physics, invariance, and conservation laws, are fundamentally important constraints for formulating physical theories and models. In practice, they are powerful methods for solving problems and predicting what can happen. While conservation laws do not always give the answer to the problem directly, they form the correct constraints and the first steps to solving a multitude of problems.