Applications of the AdS/CFT correspondence to non-equilibrium physics at strong coupling

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The AdS/CFT correspondence represents a relatively new tool to deepen our understanding of non-equilibrium phenomena at strong coupling, which are otherwise difficult to study with standard field theory techniques. The correspondence, formulated in the context of string theory, relates gravity theories in asymptotically anti de Sitter (AdS) spacetimes to conformal field theories (CFTs) on the spacetime boundary. It provides a framework to describe the dynamics of far-from-equilibrium and strongly coupled field theory systems in terms of treatable gravitational setups.

In the dissertation I discuss advances obtained using this tool in our understanding of non-equilibrium physics at strong coupling and in the study of non-local observables that are particularly apt to characterize the approach to equilibrium. The focus is on thermalizing systems, with particular attention to the relation with the thermalization process of the quark-gluon plasma observed in experiments at RHIC and LHC.

I introduce the mutual and the tripartite information, two non-local observables which capture the correlations between degrees of freedom contained in different spatial regions. I discuss some general aspects emerging from their study in the context of the AdS/CFT correspondence and present results for their evolution in a thermalizing two-dimensional CFT. Motivated by recent results obtained in the analysis of data of quark-gluon plasma experiments, I discuss an AdS/CFT model which describes the thermalization of a strongly coupled plasma in presence of inhomogeneities in the energy density distribution.
Date of Award15 May 2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBen Craps (Promotor), Irina Veretennicoff (Jury), Alexandre Sevrin (Jury), Freya Blekman (Jury), Frank De Proft (Jury), Riccardo Argurio (Jury) & J Erdmenger (Jury)


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