Surveys in Differential Geometry

Volume 15 (2010)

Anomaly constraints and string/F-theory geometry in 6D quantum gravity

Pages: 323 – 344



Washington Taylor (Center for Theoretical Physics, Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, U.S.A.)


Quantum anomalies, determined by the Atiyah-Singer index theorem, place strong constraints on the space of quantum gravity theories in six dimensions with minimal supersymmetry. The conjecture of “string universality” states that all such theories which do not have anomalies or other quantum inconsistencies are realized in string theory. This paper describes this conjecture and recent work by Kumar, Morrison, and the author towards developing a global picture of the space of consistent 6D supergravities and their realization in string theory via F-theory constructions. We focus on the discrete data for each model associated with the gauge symmetry group and the representation of this group on matter fields. The 6D anomaly structure determines an integral lattice for each gravity theory, which is related to the geometry of an elliptically fibered Calabi-Yau three-fold in an F-theory construction. Possible exceptions to the string universality conjecture suggest novel constraints on low-energy gravity theories which may be identified from the structure of F-theory geometry.

Published 1 January 2010