Topological line operators and renormalization group flows in two dimensions



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PIRSA Number: 
18030071

Abstract

Topological defect operators are extended operators in a quantum field theory (QFT) whose correlation functions are independent of continuous changes of the ambient space. They satisfy nontrivial fusion relations and put nontrivial constraints on the QFT itself and its deformations (such as renormalization group (RG) flows). Canonical examples of topological defect operators include generators of (higher-form) global symmetries whose constraints on the QFT have been well-studied. However they constitute just a tip of a much richer framework which we explore in detail in two spacetime dimensions. 

More specifically, we study the crossing relations of general topological defect lines (TDL) in two dimensions, discuss their relation to the usual 't Hooft anomalies associated to global symmetries, and use them to constrain RG flows to either conformal fixed points or topological quantum field theories (TQFTs). We show that if certain non-invertible TDLs are preserved along a RG flow, then the vacuum cannot be a non-degenerate gapped state. For various massive flows, we determine the infrared TQFTs completely from the consideration of TDLs together with modular invariance.