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Colloquium: Higher spin theories and holography

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Simone Giombi, Princeton University
10 April 2014 from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
117 Osmond Laboratory
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Higher spin gravity theories are generalizations of Einstein gravity that involve 

towers of interacting massless fields of all spins (including, in particular, the graviton) 

and can be consistently constructed in the presence of a non-zero cosmological constant. 

In recent years, these theories have received particular attention in the context of the 

so called AdS/CFT correspondence, a remarkable "holographic" duality between a quantum theory of gravity 

in anti-de Sitter space and a quantum field theory in one lower dimension. 

This correspondence suggests that, despite appearing highly non-trivial, 

higher spin gravity theories in AdS may in fact be equivalent to rather simple quantum field 

theories, as simple as a free field theory. At the same time, they also provide a dual 

gravitational description of interesting interacting quantum field theories, such as the 

Wilson-Fisher fixed point of the O(N) scalar field theory in 3 dimensions. In this talk, I will give an overview of higher spin 

theories with a focus on their role in the AdS/CFT correspondence. In particular, I will review some recent results on testing the duality when one-loop quantum effects of the higher spin fields are included. Besides their interest for the AdS/CFT duality, 

these calculations suggest that higher spin gravity theories have better ultraviolet properties than pure Einstein gravity, 

and may be interesting models of quantum gravity in their own right.