Alexandria Digital Research Library

Emergent geometry from entropy and causality

Engelhardt, Netta
Degree Supervisor:
Gary T. Horowitz
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
General Relativity
String theory
Emergent spacetime
Spacetime geometry
Online resources and Dissertations, Academic
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Physics
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2016

In this thesis, we investigate the connections between the geometry of spacetime and aspects of quantum field theory such as entanglement entropy and causality. This work is motivated by the idea that spacetime geometry is an emergent phenomenon in quantum gravity, and that the physics responsible for this emergence is fundamental to quantum field theory.

Part I of this thesis is focused on the interplay between spacetime and entropy, with a special emphasis on entropy due to entanglement. In general spacetimes, there exist locally-defined surfaces sensitive to the geometry that may act as local black hole boundaries or cosmological horizons; these surfaces, known as holographic screens, are argued to have a connection with the second law of thermodynamics. Holographic screens obey an area law, suggestive of an association with entropy; they are also distinguished surfaces from the perspective of the covariant entropy bound, a bound on the total entropy of a slice of the spacetime. This construction is shown to be quite general, and is formulated in both classical and perturbatively quantum theories of gravity. The remainder of Part I uses the Anti-de Sitter/ Conformal Field Theory (AdS/CFT) correspondence to both expand and constrain the connection between entanglement entropy and geometry. The AdS/CFT correspondence posits an equivalence between string theory in the "bulk" with AdS boundary conditions and certain quantum field theories. In the limit where the string theory is simply classical General Relativity, the Ryu-Takayanagi and more generally, the Hubeny-Rangamani-Takayanagi (HRT) formulae provide a way of relating the geometry of surfaces to entanglement entropy. A first-order bulk quantum correction to HRT was derived by Faulkner, Lewkowycz and Maldacena. This formula is generalized to include perturbative quantum corrections in the bulk at any (finite) order. Hurdles to spacetime emergence from entanglement entropy as described by HRT and its quantum generalizations are discussed, both at the classical and perturbatively quantum limits. In particular, several No Go Theorems are proven, indicative of a conclusion that supplementary approaches or information may be necessary to recover the full spacetime geometry.

Part II of this thesis involves the relation between geometry and causality, the property that information cannot travel faster than light. Requiring this of any quantum field theory results in constraints on string theory setups that are dual to quantum field theories via the AdS/CFT correspondence. At the level of perturbative quantum gravity, it is shown that causality in the field theory constraints the causal structure in the bulk. At the level of nonperturbative quantum string theory, we find that constraints on causal signals restrict the possible ways in which curvature singularities can be resolved in string theory. Finally, a new program of research is proposed for the construction of bulk geometry from the divergences of correlation functions in the dual field theory. This divergence structure is linked to the causal structure of the bulk and of the field theory.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (344 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Netta Engelhardt
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