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October 24, 2011

Workshop Explores CFT and von Neumann Algebras

The Department of Mathematics hosted a two-day Shanks Workshop on “Conformal Field Theory and Von Neumann Algebras” October 29-30, 2011. The workshop explored the deep connections between CFT and the theory of subfactors and planar algebras.

A subfactor is a group-like object that can be used to investigate the symmetries of quantum physical or statistical mechanical systems. Planar algebras organize these objects in an algebraic-topological way. They are a powerful tool to compute with these symmetries and gain a deeper understanding of the structures underlying such systems.

Invited speakers included: Stephen Curran, UCLA; David Evans, Cardiff University; Dan Freed, UT Austin; Terry Gannon, University of Alberta; Andre Henriques, Universiteit Utrecht; Scott Morrison, UC Berkeley & Miller Institute; and Antony Wassermann, CNRS, Marseille. The workshop was informal with plenty of time set aside for interactions between the participants.

The workshop was co-organized by Department Chair Dietmar Bisch and Distinguished Professor Vaughan Jones. Funding was provided by DARPA Grant HR0011-11-1-0001, the Shanks endowment and Vanderbilt University.

More information is available on the workshop web site.