2023 Prospects in Theoretical Physics Studied Confinement

Prospects in Theoretical Physics (PiTP), an intensive two-week summer program for advanced graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, took place from July 10–21 this year, the first meeting since COVID-19 struck in 2020. Over 120 participants from 30 countries visited the Institute campus to explore a wide variety of topics with the theme “Understanding Confinement.”

Topics included order parameters and mechanisms of confinement, dynamics of confining strings, confinement and gauge/string duality, lower dimensional models for quantum chromodynamics (QCD), and more.

Charles Simonyi Professor Nathan Seiberg, whose research focuses on various aspects of string theory, quantum field theory, and particle physics, gave a series of three lectures titled “The Power of Symmetry,” where he explicated some examples in quantum mechanics.

Professor Emeritus Edward Witten, speaking on “Some Milestones in the Study of Confinement,” provided a history of the topic dating back to the early 70s after the discovery of asymptotic freedom.

A special lecture by David Gross, past Member in the School of Natural Sciences (1973–74, 1977–78), titled "Fifty Years of Quantum Chromodynamics (The Theory of The Strong Nuclear Force)," provided history on the topic of QCD. Asymptotic freedom, one of the features of QCD, was discovered by Gross and past IAS Faculty Frank Wilczek in 1973, winning them the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics.

PiTP 2023 Collage
Dan Komoda

Guest lecturers included Sergei Dubovsky, NYU; Jaume Gomis, Perimeter; Igor Klebanov, Princeton; V. Parameswaran Nair, CCNY; João Penedones, EPFL, Lausanne; Silviu Pufu, Princeton; Phiala Shanahan, MIT; Mikhail Shifman, Minnesota; Grigory Tarnopolsky, CMU; Michael Teper, Oxford; and Mithat Ünsal, NC State.

The organizing committee was composed of David Gross, KITP, UCSB; Igor Klebanov, Princeton; and Grigory Tarnopolsky, CMU. PiTP was co-sponsored by the Simons Collaboration on Confinement and QCD Strings.

It is a goal of PiTP to build on the strong relationship of the research groups at the Institute and Princeton University, as well as other institutions.

First held by the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in the summer of 2002, the PiTP program is designed to provide lectures and informal sessions on the latest advances and open questions in various areas of theoretical physics.

To view the lectures from the 2023 PiTP, visit our YouTube playlist “Prospects in Theoretical Physics 2023: Understanding Confinement.”