Advances in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics

Volume 14 (2010)

Number 1

Rigid Surface Operators

Pages: 87 – 178



Sergei Gukov

Edward Witten


Surface operators in gauge theory are analogous to Wilson and 't Hooft line operators except that they are supported on a two-dimensional surface rather than a one-dimensional curve. In a previous paper, we constructed a certain class of half-BPS surface operators in N = 4 super Yang-Mills theory, and determined how they transform under S-duality. Those surface operators depend on a relatively large number of freely adjustable parameters. In the present paper, we consider the opposite case of half-BPS surface operators that are "rigid" in the sense that they do not depend on any parameters at all. We present some simple constructions of rigid half-BPS surface operators and attempt to determine how they transform under duality. This attempt is only partially successful, suggesting that our constructions are not the whole story. The partial match suggests interesting connections with quantization. We discuss some possible refinements and some string theory constructions which might lead to a more complete picture.

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