Readings

Textbook

The required text for this class is:

Zwiebach, Barton. A First Course in String Theory. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780521831437.

All readings are assigned out of this book.

Additional Reference

A new readable book at the graduate level is:

Becker, Katrin, Melanie Becker, and John H. Schwarz. String Theory and M-Theory: A Modern Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780521860697.

SES # TOPICS READINGS
1

Announcements, introduction

Lorentz transformations

Light-cone coordinates

Sections 2.1-2.3
2

Energy and momentum

Compact dimensions, orbifolds

Quantum mechanics and the square well

Sections 2.4-2.9
3

Relativistic electrodynamics

Gauss’ law

Gravitation and Planck’s length

Sections 3.1-3.6
4 Gravitational potentials, compactification, and large extra dimensions Sections 3.7-3.10
5 Nonrelativistic strings and Lagrangian mechanics Chapter 4
6 The relativistic point particle: Action, reparametrizations, and equations of motion Chapter 5
7 Area formula for spatial surfaces  
8 Area formula for spatial surfaces (cont.)  
9 Change of variables  
10 Relativistic strings: Nambu-Goto action, equations of motion and boundary conditions Sections 6.1-6.5
11

Static gauge, transverse velocity, and string action

Motion of free open string endpoints

Sections 6.6-6.9
12

The sigma-parametrization

Equations of motion and virasoro constraints

General motion for open strings

Rotating open strings

Chapter 7
  Test 1  
13

Periodicity conditions for the motion of closed strings

The formation of cusps

Conserved currents in E&M

Conserved charges in lagrangian mechanics

 
14

Momentum charges for the string

Lorentz charges for the strings

Angular momentum of the rotating string

Discuss alpha’ and the string length l_s

General gauges: fixing tau and natural units

Sections 8.4-8.6, 9.1
15 Solution of the open string motion in the light-cone gauge Sections 9.2-9.4
16 Light-cone fields and particles Sections 9.5-10.1
17 Light-cone fields and particles (cont.) Sections 10.2-10.4
18 Open strings  
19

Critical dimension

Constructing the state space

Tachyons

 
20 Closed strings  
21

Wrap-up of closed strings

Superstrings

 
  Test 2  
22 Superstrings (cont.)  
23

Closed strings

Heterotic string theory

 
24

Dp-branes

Parallel Dp’s

 
25 Dp-branes (cont.)  
26 Final exam review  
  Final exam week  

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment Problem Sets
grading Exams with Solutions
notes Lecture Notes