Anti-de Sitter space and the center of the gauge group

Ofer Aharony, Edward Witten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Upon compactification on a circle, SU(N) gauge theory with all fields in the adjoint representation acquires a ZN global symmetry because the center of the gauge group is ZN. For N = 4 super Yang-Mills theory, we show how this Z^ topological symmetry arises in the context of the AdS/CFT correspondence, and why the symmetry group is ZN rather than U(1). This provides a test of the AdS/CFT correspondence for finite N. If the theory is formulated on R3 x S1 with anti-periodic boundary conditions for fermions around the S1, the topological symmetry is spontaneously broken; we show that the domain walls are D-strings, and hence that flux tubes associated with magnetic confinement can end on the domain walls associated with the topological symmetry. For the (0, 2) AN-1 sup er conformai field theory in six dimensions, we demonstrate an analogous phenomenon: a ZN global symmetry group arises if this theory is compactified on a Riemann surface. In this case, the domain walls are M-theory membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)XXVIII-13
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


  • Discrete and finite symmetries
  • Field theories in higher dimensions
  • Gauge symmetry
  • Global symmetries


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