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Bonetti, Federico (2014): Effective actions for F-theory compactifications and tensor theories. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Physics



In this thesis we study the low-energy effective dynamics emerging from a class of F-theory compactifications in four and six dimensions. We also investigate six-dimensional supersymmetric quantum field theories with self-dual tensors, motivated by the problem of describing the long-wavelength regime of a stack of M5-branes in M-theory. These setups share interesting common features. They both constitute examples of intrinsically non-perturbative physics. On the one hand, in the context of F-theory the non-perturbative character is encoded in the geometric formulation of this class of string vacua, which allows the complexified string coupling to vary in space. On the other hand, the dynamics of a stack of multiple M5-branes flows in the infrared to a novel kind of superconformal field theories in six dimensions - commonly referred to as (2,0) theories - that are expected to possess no perturbative weakly coupled regime and have resisted a complete understanding so far. In particular, no Lagrangian description is known for these models. The strategy we employ to address these two problems is also analogous. A recurring Leitmotif of our work is a transdimensional treatment of the system under examination: in order to extract information about dynamics in $d$ dimensions we consider a (d-1)-dimensional setup. As far as F-theory compactifications are concerned, this is a consequence of the duality between M-theory and F-theory, which constitutes our main tool in the derivation of the effective action of F-theory compactifications. We apply it to six-dimensional F-theory vacua, obtained by taking the internal space to be an elliptically fibered Calabi-Yau threefold, but we also employ it to explore a novel kind of F-theory constructions in four dimensions based on manifolds with Spin(7) holonomy. With reference to six-dimensional (2,0) theories, the transdimensional character of our approach relies in the idea of studying these theories in five dimensions. Indeed, we propose a Lagrangian that is formulated in five dimensions but has the potential to capture the six-dimensional interactions of (2,0) theories. This investigation leads us to explore in closer detail the relation between physics in five and in six dimensions. One of the outcomes of our exploration is a general result for one-loop corrections to Chern-Simons couplings in five dimensions.