The "Parity" Anomaly On An Unorientable Manifold

21 Nov 2016  ·  Witten Edward ·

The "parity" anomaly -- more accurately described as an anomaly in time-reversal or reflection symmetry -- arises in certain theories of fermions coupled to gauge fields and/or gravity in a spacetime of odd dimension. This anomaly has traditionally been studied on orientable manifolds only, but recent developments involving topological superconductors have made it clear that one can get more information by asking what happens on an unorientable manifold... In this paper, we give a full description of the "parity" anomaly for fermions coupled to gauge fields and gravity in $2+1$ dimensions on a possibly unorientable spacetime. We consider an application to topological superconductors and another application to M-theory. The application to topological superconductors involves using knowledge of the "parity" anomaly as an ingredient in constructing gapped boundary states of these systems and in particular in gapping the boundary of a $\nu=16$ system in a topologically trivial fashion. The application to M-theory involves showing the consistency of the path integral of an M-theory membrane on a possibly unorientable worldvolume. In the past, this has been done only in the orientable case. read more

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High Energy Physics - Theory Strongly Correlated Electrons