Developments in topological gravity

Robbert Dijkgraaf, Edward Witten

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This note aims to provide an entrée to two developments in two-dimensional topological gravity - that is, intersection theory on the moduli space of Riemann surfaces - that have not yet become well-known among physicists. A little over a decade ago, Mirzakhani discovered [1, 2] an elegant new proof of the formulas that result from the relationship between topological gravity and matrix models of two-dimensional gravity. Here we will give a very partial introduction to that work, which hopefully will also serve as a modest tribute to the memory of a brilliant mathematical pioneer. More recently, Pandharipande, Solomon, and Tessler [3] (with further developments in [4-6]) generalized intersection theory on moduli space to the case of Riemann surfaces with boundary, leading to generalizations of the familiar KdV and Virasoro formulas. Though the existence of such a generalization appears natural from the matrix model viewpoint - it corresponds to adding vector degrees of freedom to the matrix model - constructing this generalization is not straightforward. We will give some idea of the unexpected way that the difficulties were resolved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTopology and Physics
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing Co.
Number of pages64
ISBN (Electronic)9789813278677
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Mathematics


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