Center for the Fundamental Laws of Nature
Such an all-encompassing theory necessarily requires a tremendous amount of mathematical technology. In fact, most of the mathematics needed for string theory is not even yet developed. String theorists thus have the exciting task of building new mathematics as tools to explore new laws of physics. It is therefore not surprising that string theory is at the cross roads of many fields, including mathematics, particle phenomenology and astrophysics. Cumrun Vafa's research has involved essentially all these aspects. Together with his colleagues he has worked on topological strings, trying to elucidate some new mathematics originating from string theory (notably in his work on mirror symmetry) and using these techniques to uncover some of the mysteries of black holes, particularly the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy. He has also applied these ideas to particle theories by geometrically engineering quantum field theories, as well as solving the strong coupling dynamics of confining theories (using large N matrix model technology) and geometrizing string theory defects (in a limit of string theory known as F-theory). His recent work involves applying these ideas to come up with stringy predictions about what the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN may potentially discover in the near future.