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 branch of physics

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.

Center (group theory) normal subgroup consisting of elements that commute with every element

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,


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.

Noethers theorem Physical law that differentiable symmetries correspond to conservation laws

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.

Supersymmetry symmetry between bosons and fermions in certain physical systems

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.

Stress–energy tensor Tensor describing the density and flux of energy in spacetime

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.

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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.

Generator (mathematics) elements of the Lie algebra to a Lie group

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