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The course Advanced Topics in Theoretical Physics is part of the Delta ITP, which is a joint initiative between the Universities of Leiden (UL), Utrecht (UU), and Amsterdam (UvA). Lectures are given by professors of these three universities. The general topic of this course is Renormalisation, Conformal Field Theory and AdS/CFT. The course is intended for PhD and Master students who have learned the basis of Quantum Field Theory. 

Event details of Fall 2013 Renormalisation, Conformal Field Theory and AdS/CFT
Start date 9 September 2013
End date 16 December 2013
Time 11:00

The course consists of three modules. For each one there are four lectures (2 hrs each) and four exercise sessions (2 hrs each). At the end of each module there is an exam. PhD students are not obliged to do the exams, which are meant for Master students who intend to use this course as part of their Master.

Course summary

Module 1: Renormalization Group Methods (Henk Stoof). 
Module 2: Introduction to Conformal Field Theory (J.-S. Caux) 
Module 3: AdS/CFT (K. Schalm & R. Davison)


The lectures are on Mondays 11:00 - 13:00 (followed by an exercise session from 13:00 - 15:00) and will take place in Amsterdam. Please note that the lecture rooms vary throughout the course.

Module 1: Renormalization Group Methods - Henk Stoof (Utrecht) 

9-16-23 Sept & 7 Oct 

Location: Amsterdam Science Park

Lectures: 11:00 - 13:00 | 
9 Sept: room B0.207 |16 & 23 sept: room B0.204 | 7 Oct: room A1.10 | 14 Oct: room B0.201

Exercise sessions: 13:00 - 15:00 
| 6, 16 & 23 Sept: room A1.06 | 7 Oct: room A1.10 

EXAM: Oct 14 

Renormalization-group theory was originally developed for the understanding of critical phenomena near a classical phase transition, i.e., a phase transition due to thermal fluctuations. Nowadays, however, it is an indispensible tool for (quantum) field theory in general, both in the context of elementary-particle physics as well as condensed-matter physics. In part I of this course, we will give an introduction to this important topic in theoretical physics, focussing mostly on its applications to classical and quantum phase transitions where there turns out to be a particularly strong connection with parts II and III of this course.

Module 2: Introduction to Conformal Field Theory - Jean-Sébastien Caux, (Amsterdam) 

Lectures: 30 Sep, 28 Oct & 4 & 11 Nov 

Location: Amsterdam Science Park, room D1.113 (30 Sept.), A1.04 (28 Oct., 4 & 11 Nov.) 
Exercise sessions: 13:00 - 15:00 
Location: Amsterdam Science Park, room B0.201 (30 Sept.), D1.112 (28 Oct., 4 & 11 Nov.)

EXAM (take-home) 

Conformal Field Theory is one of the central pillars in the theory of two-dimensional critical systems. These lectures will provide an introduction to the formalism of CFT, and expose the techniques and methods relevant to its use in statistical physics and condensed matter theory. 
The lectures will be based on the following references (it is recommended to bring them along if possible, especially the book by Di Francesco et al.):

  • A. A. Belavin, A. M. Polyakov and A. B. Zamolodchikov, Infinite conformal symmetry in two-dimensional quantum field theory, Nucl. Phys. B 241, 333 (1984)
  • P. Ginsparg, Applied Conformal Field Theory, in Fields, Strings and Critical Phe- nomena, (Les Houches, Session XLIX, 1988) ed. by E. Br ́ezin and J. Zinn Justin (1989) (available online as arXiv:hep-th/9108028)
  • P. Di Francesco, P. Mathieu, and D. S ́en ́echal, Conformal Field Theory, Springer- Verlag, New York (1997). 

Module 3: AdS/CFT - Koenraad Schalm & R. Davison (Leiden)

Lectures: 18-25 Nov & 2-9 Dec 

Location: all lectures: room A1.04. All exercise sessions: room D1.112

EXAM: 16 Dec (written) 

The anti-de Sitter/ Conformal Field theory correspondence provides a unique novel perspective on  critical phenomena at second order quantum phase transitions in systems with spatial dimensions d>1. The first half of these lectures will provide technical background to apply the so called "holographic" techniques of the correspondence. The second half discusses the application to quantum phase transitions in condensed matter: how spontaneous symmetry breaking in a quantum critical system is similar and different to the standard case, the notion of semi-local quantum liquids and their connection to non-Fermi liquids and strange metals.
Lectures notes will be provided. There are also many lecture notes available for a partial list click here. A sample of references are:

  • J. Erdmenger, Introduction to gauge gravity duality, Chapters 1,2,4,5,6. 
  • S.A. Hartnoll, Lectures on holographic methods for condensed matter physics, Class. Quant. Grav. 26, 224002 (2009).
  • N. Iqbal, H. Liu and M. Mezei, Lectures on holographic non-Fermi liquids and quantum phase transitions.


Prof. Jean-Sébastien Caux | 

e-mail: j.s.caux [at]

Institute for Theoretical Physics | Institute of Physics | 
University of Amsterdam | 
Science Park 904 | 
1098 XH Amsterdam