Physics 250: Introduction to String Theory

Spring 2002, Tue and Thu, 9:30 - 11:00 a.m., 5 Evans Hall.
Instructor: Petr Horava

ANNOUNCEMENT: In Fall 2002 I will teach a slightly more advanced string theory course, again as Phys 250. That course will discuss more modern aspects of string theory via its relation to M-theory, with a particular focus on heterotic M-theory.

NEW (5/23): Solutions to homework assignments IV, V and VI have been posted.

NEW (5/22): The grades have been assigned, and submitted via bearfacts.
In the assignment of grades, the following scale has been used:
90% and more: A+
80% and more: A
70% and more: A-
60% and more: B+
50% and more: B, etc.
Those of you who want their term papers back should email me :-)

This course introduces the basic concepts and techniques of string theory, both perturbative and non-perturbative.

The grader/tutor for this course is Uday Varadarajan ( He is available to answer your questions about what was discussed in class (and possibly other aspects of string theory you may want to know about) by email or in person.

shortcut to the homework assignments

The final grade will be based on homework assignments (60%) and a final paper (40%).

The homework assignments will be posted on this web page every other Thursday, and will be related to the subjects discussed in the previous two weeks in class. The completed assignments will always be due the following Thursday in class.

The final paper should be a summary of your understanding (2 pages or more, typed) of a research paper that you select from a list available here. This list currently contains 25 papers. Each student should select one article from that list and let me know by email (by the end of February at the latest) his/her choice. I will try to coordinate things such that each article is assigned to only one student. Towards the end of the semester, I will discuss the paper with each student individually; unfortunately, a public presentation of each paper in front of the class would be too time-consuming, and we will not attempt it. On the other hand, if you are interested in hearing about an article assigned to somebody else, I strongly encourage you to discuss the article with that person.

A complete alternative to homework and paper is offered, in the form of a bonus assignment, as a challenge to those students who are already too advanced for this introductory course, and may have already done all the possible homework assignments in their previous study of string theory. This bonus assignment is at the level of a simple research project in (mostly perturbative) string theory, and to my knowledge its results are not explicitly published anywhere in the literature.