Research Expertise and Interest
string theory, mathematical physics
Mina Aganagic is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Physics. She is a string theorist, working at the intersection of mathematics and physics.
Going back to Newton, mathematics was used to describe Nature, while physics brings mathematics to life -- providing inspiration and interpretation for many mathematical results.
With string theory, the nature of this interaction has changed. The new ingredient introduced by string theory is the phenomenon of duality. To describe a quantum system, we often start with a classical system and then calculate the effect of quantum fluctuations. Duality is the relation between two descriptions of the same quantum physics in different classical terms.
String dualities turn out to lead to striking mathematical predictions, which often happen to be about problems at the very core of modern mathematics, such as enumerative geometry, geometric representation theory, knot categorification, and geometric Langlands. This leads to a new kind of interaction between mathematics and quantum physics, not unlike that between theory and experiment, which she works to develop.