Friday, June 23, 2017

Lattice 2017, Days Three and Four

Wednesday was the customary short day, with parallel sessions in the morning, and time for excursions in the afternoon. I took the "Historic Granada" walking tour, which included visits to the Capilla Real and the very impressive Cathedral of Granada.

The first plenary session of today had a slightly unusual format in that it was a kind of panel discussion on the topic of axions and QCD topology at finite temperature.

After a brief outline by Mikko Laine, the session chair, the session started off with a talk by Guy Moore on the role of axions in cosmology and the role of lattice simulations in this context. Axions arise in the Peccei-Quinn solution to the strong CP problem and are a potential dark matter candidate. Guy presented some of his own real-time lattice simulations in classical field theory for axion fields, which exhibit the annihilation of cosmic-string-like vortex defects and associated axion production, and pointed out the need for accurate lattice QCD determinations of the topological susceptibility in the temperature range of 500-1200 MeV in order to fix the mass of the axion more precisely from the dark matter density (assuming that dark matter consists of axions).

The following talks were all fairly short. Claudio Bonati presented algorithmic developments for simulations of the topological properties of high-temperature QCD. The long autocorrelations of the topological charge at small lattice spacing are a problem. Metadynamics, which bias the Monte Carlo evolution in a non-Markovian manner so as to more efficiently sample the configuration space, appear to be of help.

Hidenori Fukaya reviewed the question of whether U(1)A remains anomalous at high temperature, which he claimed (both on theoretical grounds and based on numerical simulation results) it doesn't. I didn't quite understand this, since as far as I understand the axial anomaly, it is an operator identity, which will remain true even if both sides of the identity were to happen to vanish at high enough temperature, which is all that seemed to be shown; but this may just be my ignorance showing.

Tamas Kovacs showed recent results on the temperature-dependence of the topological susceptibility of QCD. By a careful choice of algorithms based on physical considerations, he could measure the topological susceptibility over a wide range of temperatures, showing that it becomes tiny at large temperature.

Then the speakers all sat on the stage as a panel and fielded questions from the audience. Perhaps it might have been a good idea to somehow force the speakers to engage each other; as it was, the advantage of this format over simply giving each speaker a longer time for answering questions didn't immediately become apparent to me.

After the coffee break, things returned to the normal format. Boram Yoon gave a review of lattice determinations of the neutron electric dipole moment. Almost any BSM source of CP violation must show up as a contribution to the neutron EDM, which is therefore a very sensitive probe of new physics. The very strong experimental limits on any possible neutron EDM imply e.g. |θ|<10-10 in QCD through lattice measurements of the effects of a θ term on the neutron EDM. Similarly, limits can be put on any quark EDMs or quark chromoelectric dipole moments. The corresponding lattice simulations have to deal with sign problems, and the usual techniques (Taylor expansions, simulations at complex θ) are employed to get past this, and seem to be working very well.

The next plenary speaker was Phiala Shanahan, who showed recent results regarding the gluon structure of hadrons and nuclei. This line of research is motivated by the prospect of an electron-ion collider that would be particularly sensitive to the gluon content of nuclei. For gluonic contributions to the momentum and spin decomposition of the nucleon, there are some fresh results from different groups. For the gluonic transversity, Phiala and her collaborators have performed first studies in the φ system. The gluonic radii of small nuclei have also been looked at, with no deviation from the single-nucleon case visible at the present level of accuracy.

The 2017 Kenneth Wilson Award was awarded to Raúl Briceño for his groundbreaking contributions to the study of resonances in lattice QCD. Raúl has been deeply involved both in the theoretical developments behind extending the reach of the Lüscher formalism to more and more complicated situations, and in the numerical investigations of resonance properties rendered possible by those developments.

After the lunch break, there were once again parallel sessions, two of which were dedicated entirely to the topic of the hadronic vacuum polarization contribution to the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon, which has become one of the big topics in lattice QCD.

In the evening, the conference dinner took place. The food was excellent, and the Flamenco dancers who arrived at midnight (we are in Spain after all, where it seems dinner never starts before 9pm) were quite impressive.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lattice 2017, Day Two

Welcome back to our blog coverage of the Lattics 2017 conference in Granada.

Today's first plenary session started with an experimental talk by Arantza Oyanguren of the LHCb collaboration on B decay anomalies at LHCb. LHCb have amassed a huge number of b-bbar pairs, which allow them to search for and study in some detail even the rarest of decay modes, and they are of course still collecting more integrated luminosity. Readers of this blog will likely recall the Bs → μ+μ- branching ratio result from LHCb, which agreed with the Standard Model prediction. In the meantime, there are many similar results for branching ratios that do not agree with Standard Model predictions at the 2-3σ level, e.g. the ratios of branching fractions like Br(B+→K+μ+μ-)/Br(B+→K+e+e-), in which lepton flavour universality appears to be violated. Global fits to data in these channels appear to favour the new physics hypothesis, but one should be cautious because of the "look-elsewhere" effect: when studying a very large number of channels, some will show an apparently significant deviation simply by statistical chance. On the other hand, it is very interesting that all the evidence indicating potential new physics (including the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon and the discrepancy between the muonic and electronic determinations of the proton electric charge radius) involve differences between processes involving muons and analogous processes involving electrons, an observation I'm sure model-builders have made a long time ago.

This was followed by a talk on flavour physics anomalies by Damir Bečirević. Expanding on the theoretical interpretation of the anomalies discussed in the previous talk, he explained how the data seem to indicate a violation of lepton flavour universality at the level where the Wilson coefficient C9 in the effective Hamiltonian is around zero for electrons, and around -1 for muons. Experimental data seem to favour the situation where C10=-C9, which can be accommodated is certain models with a Z' boson coupling preferentially to muons, or in certain special leptoquark models with corrections at the loop level only. Since I have little (or rather no) expertise in phenomenological model-building, I have no idea how likely these explanations are.

The next speaker was Xu Feng, who presented recent progress in kaon physics simulations on the lattice. The "standard" kaon quantities, such as the kaon decay constant or f+(0), are by now very well-determined from the lattice, with overall errors at the sub-percent level, but beyond that there are many important quantities, such as the CP-violating amplitudes in K → ππ decays, that are still poorly known and very challenging. RBC/UKQCD have been leading the attack on many of these observables, and have presented a possible solution to the ΔI=1/2 rule, which consists in non-perturbative effects making the amplitude A0 much larger relative to A2 than what would be expected from naive colour counting. Making further progress on long-distance contributions to the KL-KS mass difference or εK will require working at the physical pion mass and treating the charm quark with good control of discretization effects. For some processes, such as KL→π0+-, even the sign of the coefficient would be desirable.

After the coffee break, Luigi Del Debbio talked about parton distributions in the LHC era. The LHC data reduce the error on the NNLO PDFs by around a factor of two in the intermediate-x region. Conversely, the theory errors coming from the PDFs are a significant part of the total error from the LHC on Higgs physics and BSM searches. In particular the small-x and large-x regions remain quite uncertain. On the lattice, PDFs can be determined via quasi-PDFs, in which the Wilson line inside the non-local bilinear is along a spatial direction rather than in a light-like direction. However, there are still theoretical issues to be settled in order to ensure that the renormalization and matching the the continuum really lead to the determination of continuum PDFs in the end.

Next was a talk about chiral perturbation theory results on the multi-hadron state contamination of nucleon observables by Oliver Bär. It is well known that until very recently, lattice calculations of the nucleon axial charge underestimated its value relative to experiment, and this has been widely attributed to excited-state effects. Now, Oliver has calculated the corrections from nucleon-pion states on the extraction of the axial charge in chiral perturbation theory, and has found that they actually should lead to an overestimation of the axial charge from the plateau method, at least for source-sink separations above 2 fm, where ChPT is applicable. Similarly, other nucleon charges should be overestimated by 5-10%. Of course, nobody is currently measuring in that distance regime, and so it is quite possible that higher-order corrections or effects not captured by ChPT overcompensate this and lead to an underestimation, which would however mean that there is some instermediate source-sink separation for which one gets the experimental result by accident, as it were.

The final plenary speaker of the morning was Chia-Cheng Chang, who discussed progress towards a precise lattice determination of the nucleon axial charge, presenting the results of the CalLAT collaboration from using what they refer to as the Feynman-Hellmann method, a novel way of implementing what is essentially the summation method through ideas based in the Feynman-Hellmann theorem (but which doesn't involve simulating with a modified action, as a straightforward applicaiton of the Feynman-Hellmann theorem would demand).

After the lunch break, there were parallel sessions, and in the evening, the poster session took place. A particular interesting and entertaining contribution was a quiz about women's contributions to physics and computer science, the winner of which will win a bottle of wine and a book.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Lattice 2017, Day One

Hello from Granada and welcome to our coverage of the 2017 lattice conference.

After welcome addresses by the conference chair, a representative of the government agency in charge of fundamental research, and the rector of the university, the conference started off in a somewhat sombre mood with a commemoration of Roberto Petronzio, a pioneer of lattice QCD, who passed away last year. Giorgio Parisi gave a memorial talk summarizing Roberto's many contributions to the development of the field, from his early work on perturbative QCD and the parton model, through his pioneering contributions to lattice QCD back in the days of small quenched lattices, to his recent work on partially twisted boundary conditions and on isospin breaking effects, which is very much at the forefront of the field at the moment, not to omit Roberto's role as director of the Italian INFN in politically turbulent times.

This was followed by a talk by Martin Lüscher on stochastic locality and master-field simulations of very large lattices. The idea of a master-field simulation is based on the observation of volume self-averaging, i.e. that the variance of volume-averaged quantities is much smaller on large lattices (intuitively, this would be because an infinitely-extended properly thermalized lattice configuration would have to contain any possible finite sub-configuration with a frequency corresponding to its weight in the path integral, and that thus a large enough typical lattice configuration is itself a sort of ensemble). A master field is then a huge (e.g. 2564) lattice configuration, on which volume averages of quantities are computed, which have an expectation value equal to the QCD expectation value of the quantity in question, and a variance which can be estimated using a double volume sum that is doable using an FFT. To generate such huge lattice, algorithms with global accept-reject steps (like HMC) are unsuitable, because ΔH grows with the square root of the volume, but stochastic molecular dynamics (SMD) can be used, and it has been rigorously shown that for short-enough trajectory lengths SMD converges to a unique stationary state even without an accept-reject step.

After the coffee break, yet another novel simulation method was discussed by Ignacio Cirac, who presented techniques to perform quantum simulations of QED and QCD on alattice. While quantum computers of the kind that would render RSA-based public-key cryptography irrelevant remain elusive at the moment, the idea of a quantum simulator (which is essentially an analogue quantum computer), which goes back to Richard Feynman, can already be realized in practice: optical lattices allow trapping atoms on lattice sites while fine-tuning their interactions so as to model the couplings of some other physical system, which can thus be simulated. The models that are typically simulated in this way are solid-state models such as the Hubbard model, but it is of course also possible to setup a quantum simulator for a lattice field theory that has been formulated in the Hamiltonian framework. In order to model a gauge theory, it is necessary to model the gauge symmetry by some atomic symmetry such as angular momentum conservation, and this has been done at least in theory for QED and QCD. The Schwinger model has been studied in some detail. The plaquette action for d>1+1 additionally requires a four-point interaction between the atoms modelling the link variables, which can be realized using additional auxiliary variables, and non-abelian gauge groups can be encoded using multiple species of bosonic atoms. A related theoretical tool that is still in its infancy, but shows significant promise, is the use of tensor networks. This is based on the observation that for local Hamiltonians the entanglement between a region and its complement grows only as the surface of the region, not its volume, so only a small corner of the total Hilbert space is relevant; this allows one to write the coefficients of the wavefunction in a basis of local states as a contraction of tensors, from where classical algorithms that scale much better than the exponential growth in the number of variables that would naively be expected can be derived. Again, the method has been successfully applied to the Schwinger model, but higher dimensions are still challenging, because the scaling, while not exponential, still becomes very bad.

Staying with the topic of advanced simulation techniques, the next talk was Leonardo Giusti speaking about the block factorization of fermion determinants into local actions for multi-boson fields. By decomposing the lattice into three pieces, of which the middle one separates the other by a distance Δ large enough to render e-MπΔ small, and by applying a domain decomposition similar to the one used in Lüscher's DD-HMC algorithm to the Dirac operator, Leonardo and collaborators have been able to derive a multi-boson algorithm that allows to perform multilevel integration with dynamical fermions. For hadronic observables, the quark propagator also needs to be factorized, which Leonardo et al. also have achieved, making a significant decrease in statistical error possible.

After the lunch break there were parallel sessions, in one of which I gave my own talk and another one of which I chaired, thus finishing all of my duties other than listening (and blogging) on day one.

In the evening, there was a reception followed by a special guided tour of the truly stunning Alhambra (which incidentally contains a great many colourful - and very tasteful - lattices in the form of ornamental patterns).

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

If you speak German ...

... you might find this video amusing.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review: "Lattice QCD — Practical Essentials"

There is a new book about Lattice QCD, Lattice Quantum Chromodynamics: Practical Essentials by Francesco Knechtli, Michael Günther and Mike Peardon. At a 140 pages, this is a pretty slim volume, so it is obvious that it does not aim to displace time-honoured introductory textbooks like Montvay and Münster, or the newer books by Gattringer and Lang or DeGrand and DeTar. Instead, as suggested by the subtitle "Practical Essentials", and as said explicitly by the authors in their preface, this book aims to prepare beginning graduate students for their practical work in generating gauge configurations and measuring and analysing correlators.

In line with this aim, the authors spend relatively little time on the physical or field theoretic background; while some more advanced topics such as the Nielson-Ninomiya theorem and the Symanzik effective theory or touched upon, the treatment of foundational topics is generally quite brief, and some topics, such as lattice perturbation theory or non-perturbative renormalization, are altogether omitted. The focus of the book is on Monte Carlo simulations, for which both the basic ideas and practically relevant algorithms — heatbath and overrelaxation fro pure gauge fields, and hybrid Monte Carlo for dynamical fermions — are described in some detail, including the RHMC algorithm and advanced techniques such as determinant factorizations, higher-order symplectic integrators, and multiple-timescale integration. The techniques from linear algebra required to deal with fermions are also covered in some detail, from the basic ideas of Krylov space methods through concrete descriptions of the GMRES and CG algorithms, along with such important preconditioners as even-odd and domain decomposition, to the ideas of algebraic multigrid methods. Stochastic estimation of all-to-all propagators with dilution, the one-end trick and low-mode averaging and explained, as are techniques for building interpolating operators with specific quantum numbers, gauge link and quark field smearing, and the use of the variational method to extract hadronic mass spectra. Scale setting, the Wilson flow, and Lüscher's method for extracting scattering phase shifts are also discussed briefly, as are the basic statistical techniques for data analysis. Each chapter contains a list of references to the literature covering both original research articles and reviews and textbooks for further study.

Overall, I feel that the authors succeed very well at their stated aim of giving a quick introduction to the methods most relevant to current research in lattice QCD in order to let graduate students hit the ground running and get to perform research as quickly as possible. In fact, I am slightly worried that they may turn out to be too successful, since a graduate student having studied only this book could well start performing research, while having only a very limited understanding of the underlying field-theoretical ideas and problems (a problem that already exists in our field in any case). While this in no way detracts from the authors' achievement, and while I feel I can recommend this book to beginners, I nevertheless have to add that it should be complemented by a more field-theoretically oriented traditional textbook for completeness.

Note that I have deliberately not linked to the Amazon page for this book. Please support your local bookstore — nowadays, you can usually order online on their websites, and many bookstores are more than happy to ship books by post.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lattice 2016, Day Six

The final day of the conference started with a review talk by Claudio Pica on lattice simulations trying to chart the fundamental physics beyond the Standard Model. The problem with the SM is perhaps to some extent how well it works, given that we know it must be incomplete. One of the main contenders for replacing it is the notion of strong dynamics at a higher energy scale giving rise to the Higgs boson as a composite particle. The most basic "technicolor" theories of this kind fail because they cannot account for the relatively large masses of the second- and third-generation quarks. To avoid that problem, the coupling of the technicolor gauge theory must not be running, but "walking" slowly from high to low energy scales, which has given rise to a veritable industry of lattice simulations investigating the β function of various gauge theories coupled to various numbers of fermions in various representations. The Higgs can then be either a dilaton associated with the breaking of conformal symmetry, which would naturally couple like a Standard Model Higgs, or a pseudo-Goldstone boson associated with the breaking of some global flavour symmetry. So far, nothing very conclusive has resulted, but of course the input from experiment at the moment only consists of limits ruling some models out, but not allowing for any discrimination between those models that aren't rules out.

A specific example of BSM physics, viz. strongly interacting dark matter, was presented in a talk by Enrico Rinaldi. If there is a new strongly-coupled interaction, as suggested by the composite Higgs models, then besides the Higgs there will also be other bound states, some of which may be stable and provide a dark matter candidate. While the "dark" nature of dark matter requires such a bound state to be neutral, the constituents might interact with the SM sector, allowing for the production and detection of dark matter. Many different models of composite dark matter have been considered, and the main limits currently come from the non-detection of dark matter in searches, which put limits on the "hadron-structure" observables of the dark matter candidates, such as their σ-terms and charge radii).

David Kaplan gave a talk on a new perspective on chiral gauge theories, the lattice formulation of which has always been a persistent problem, largely due to the Nielsen-Ninomiya theorem. However, the fermion determinant of chiral gauge theories is already somewhat ill-defined even in the continuum. A way to make it well-defined has been proposed by Alvarez-Gaumé et al. through the addition of an ungauged right-handed fermion. On the lattice, the U(1)A anomaly is found to emerge as the remnant of the explicit breaking of chiral symmetry by e.g. the Wilson term in the limit of vanishing lattice spacing. Attempts at realizing ungauged mirror fermions using domain wall fermions with a gauge field constrained to near one domain wall have failed, and a realizations using the gradient flow in the fifth dimension turns the mirror fermions into "fluff". A new realization along the lines of the overlap operator gives a lattice operator very similar to that of Alvarez-Gaumé by coupling the mirror fermion to a fixed point of the gradient flow, which is a pure gauge.

After the coffee break, Tony Hey gave a very entertaining, if somewhat meandering, talk about "Richard Feynman, Data-Intensive Science and the Future of Computing" going all the way from Feynman's experiences at Los Alamos to AI singularity scenarios and the security aspects of self-driving cars.

The final plenary talk was the review talk on machines and algorithms by Peter Boyle. The immediate roadmap for new computer architectures shows increases of around 400 times in the single-precision performance per node, and a two-fold increase in the bandwidth of interconnects, and this must be taken into account in algorithm design and implementation in order to achieve good scaling behaviour. Large increases in chip performance are to be expected from three-dimensional arrangement of units, which will allow thicker and shorter copper wires, although there remain engineering problems to solve, such as how to efficiently get the heat out of such chips. In terms of algorithms, multigrid solvers are now becoming available for a larger variety of fermion formulations, leading to potentially great increases in performance near the chiral and continuum limits. Multilevel integration methods, which allow for an exponential reduction of the noise, also look interesting, although at the moment these work only in the quenched theory.

The IAC announced that Lattice 2018 will take place at Michigan State University. Elvira Gamiz as the chair of the Lattice 2017 LOC extended an invitation to the lattice community to come to Granada for Lattice 2017, which will take place in the week 18-24 June 2017. And with that, and a round of well-deserved applause for the organizers, the conference closed.

My further travel plans are of interest only to a small subset of my readers, and need not be further elaborated upon in this venue.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Lattice 2016, Day Five

Today was the day of finite temperature and density, on which the general review talk was delivered by Heng-Tong Ding. While in the meantime agreement has been reached on the transition temperature, the nature of the transition (crossover) and the equation of state at the physical quark masses, on which different formulations differed a lot in the past, the Columbia plot of the nature of the transition as a function of the light and strange quark masses still remains to be explored, and there are discrepancies between results obtained in different formulations. On the topic of U(1)A restoration (on which I do have a layman's question: to my understanding U(1)A is broken by the axial anomaly, which to my understanding arises from the path integral measure - so why should one expect the symmetry to be restored at high temperature? The situation is quite different from dynamical spontaneous symmetry breaking, as far as I understand), there is no evidence for restoration so far. A number of groups have taken to using the gradient flow as a tool to perform relatively cheap investigations of the equation of state. There are also new results from the different approaches to finite-density QCD, including cumulants from the Taylor-expansion approach, which can be related to heavy-ion observables, and new ways of stabilizing complex Langevin dynamics.

This was followed by two topical talks. The first, by Seyong Kim, was on the subject of heavy flavours at finite temperature. Heavy flavours are one of the most important probes of the quark-gluon plasma, and J/ψ suppression has served as a diagnostic tool of QGP formation for a long time. To understand the influence of high temperatures on the survival of quarkonium states and on the transport properties of heavy flavours in the QGP, knowledge of the spectral functions is needed. Unfortunately, extracting these from a finite number of points in Euclidean point is an ill-posed problem, especially so when the time extent is small at high temperature. The methods used to get at them nevertheless, such as the maximum entropy method or Bayesian fits, need to use some kind of prior information, introducing the risk of a methodological bias leading to systematic errors that may be not only quantitative, but even qualitative; as an example, MEM shows P-wave bottomonium to melt around the transition temperature, whereas a newer Bayesian method shows it to survive, so clearly more work is needed.

The second topical talk was Kurt Langfeld speaking about the density-of-states method. This method is based on determining a function ρ(E), which is essentially the path integral of δ(S[φ]-E), such that the partition function can be written as the Laplace transform of ρ, which can be generalized to the case of actions with a sign problem, where the partition function can then be written as the Fourier transform of a function P(s). An algorithm to compute such functions exists in the form of what looks like a sort of microcanonical simulation in a window [E-δE;E+δE] and determines the slope of ρ at E, whence ρ can be reconstructed. Ergodicity is ensured by having the different windows overlap and running in parallel, with a possibility of "replica exchange" between the processes running for neighbouring windows when configurations within the overlap between them are generated. The examples shown, e.g. for the Potts model, looked quite impressive in that the method appears able to resolve double-peak structures even when the trough between the peaks is suppressed by many orders of magnitude, such that a Markov process would have no chance of crossing between the two probability peaks.

After the coffee break, Aleksi Kurkela reviewed the phenomenology of heavy ions. The flow properties that were originally taken as a sign of hydrodynamics having set in are now also observed in pp collisions, which seem unlikely to be hydrodynamical. In understanding and interpreting these results, the pre-equilibration evolution is an important source of uncertainty; the current understanding seems to be that the system goes from an overoccupied to an underoccupied state before thermalizing, making different descriptions necessary at different times. At early times, simulations of classical Yang-Mills theory on a lattice in proper-time/rapidity coordinates are used, whereas later a quasiparticle description and kinetic theory can be applied; all this seems to be qualitative so far.

The energy momentum tensor, which plays an important role in thermodynamics and hydrodynamics, was the topic of the last plenary of the day, which was given by Hiroshi Suzuki. Translation invariance is broken on the lattice, so the Ward-Takahashi identity for the energy-momentum tensor picks up an O(a) violation term, which can become O(1) by radiative corrections. As a consequence, three different renormalization factors are needed to renormalize the energy-momentum tensor. One way of getting at these are the shifted boundary conditions of Giusti and Meyer, another is the use of the gradient flow at short flow times, and there are first results from both methods.

The parallel sessions of the afternoon concluded the parallel programme.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Lattice 2016, Days Three and Four

Following the canonical script for lattice conferences, yesterday was the day without plenaries. Instead, the morning was dedicated to parallel sessions (including my own talk), and the afternoon was free time with the option of taking one of several arranged excursions.

I went on the excursion to Salisbury cathedral (which is notable both for its fairly homogeneous and massive architectural ensemble, and for being home to one of four original copies of the Magna Carta) and Stonehenge (which in terms of diameter seems to be much smaller than I had expected from photos).

Today began with the traditional non-lattice theory talk, which was given by Monika Blanke, who spoke about the impact of lattice QCD results on CKM phenomenology. Since quarks cannot be observed in isolation, the extraction of CKM matrix elements from experimental results always require knowledge of the appropriate hadronic matrix elements of the currents involved in the measured reaction. This means that lattice results for the form factors of heavy-to-light semileptonic decays and for the hadronic parameters governing neutral kaon and B meson mixing are of crucial importance to CKM phenomenology, to the extent that there is even a sort of "wish list" to the lattice. There has long been a discrepancy between the values of both |Vcb| and |Vub| extracted from inclusive and exclusive decays, respectively, and the ratio |Vub/Vcb| that can be extracted from decays of Λb baryons only adds to the tension. However, this is likely to be a result of underestimated theoretical uncertainties or experimental issues, since the pattern of the discrepancies is not in agreement with that which would results from new physics effects induced by right-handed currents. General models of flavour violating new physics seems to favour the inclusive value for |Vub|. In b->s transitions, there is evidence for new physics effects at the 4σ level, but significant theoretical uncertainties remain. The B(s)->μ+μ- branching fractions are currently in agreement with the SM at the 2σ level, but new, more precise measurements are forthcoming.

Ran Zhou complemented this with a review talk about heavy flavour results from the lattice, where there are new results from a variety of different approaches (NRQCD, HQET, Fermilab and Columbia RHQ formalisms), which can serve as useful and important cross-checks on each other's methodological uncertainties.

Next came a talk by Amy Nicholson on neutrinoless double β decay results from the lattice. Neutrinoless double β decays are possible if neutrinos are Majorana particles, which would help to explain the small masses of the observed left-handed neutrinos through the see-saw mechanism pushing the right-handed neutrinos off to near the GUT scale. Treating the double β decay in the framework of a chiral effective theory, the leading-order matrix element required is a process π-->π+e-e-, for which there are first results in lattice QCD. The NLO process would have disconnected diagrams, but cannot contribute to the 0+->0+ transitions which are experimentally studied, whereas the NNLO process involves two-nucleon operators and still remains to be studied in greater detail on the lattice.

After the coffee break, Agostino Patella reviewed the hot topic of QED corrections to hadronic observables. There are currently two main methods for dealing with QED in the context of lattice simulations: either to simulate QCD+QED directly (usually at unphysically large electromagnetic couplings followed by an extrapolation to the physical value of α=1/137), or to expand it in powers of α and to measure only the resulting correlation functions (which will be four-point functions or higher) in lattice QCD. Both approaches have been used to obtain some already very impressive results on isospin-breaking QED effects in the hadronic spectrum, as shown already in the spectroscopy review talk. There are, however, still a number of theoretical issues connected to the regularization of IR modes that relate to the Gauss law constraint that would forbid the existence of a single charged particle (such as a proton) in a periodic box. The prescriptions to evade this problem all lead to a non-commutativity of limits requiring the infinite-volume limit to be taken before other limits (such as the continuum or chiral limits): QEDTL, which omits the global zero modes of the photon field, is non-local and does not have a transfer matrix; QEDL, which omits the spatial zero modes on each timeslice, has a transfer matrix, but is still non-local and renormalizes in a non-standard fashion, such that it does not have a non-relativistic limit; the use of a massive photon leads to a local theory with softly broken gauge symmetry, but still requires the infinite-volume limit to be taken before removing the photon mass. Going beyond hadron masses to decays introduces new IR problems, which need to be treated in the Bloch-Nordsieck way, leading to potentially large logarithms.

The 2016 Ken Wilson Lattice Award was awarded to Antonin Portelli for his outstanding contributions to our understanding of electromagnetic effects on hadron properties. Antonin was one of the driving forces behind the BMW collaboration's effort to determine the proton-neutron mass difference, which resulted in a Science paper exhibiting one of the most frequently-shown and impressive spectrum plots at this conference.

In the afternoon, parallel sessions took place, and in the evening there was a (very nice) conference dinner at the Southampton F.C. football stadium.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lattice 2016, Day Two

Hello again from Lattice 2016 at Southampton. Today's first plenary talk was the review of nuclear physics from the lattice given by Martin Savage. Doing nuclear physics from first principles in QCD is obviously very hard, but also necessary in order to truly understand nuclei in theoretical terms. Examples of needed theory predictions include the equation of state of dense nuclear matter, which is important for understanding neutron stars, and the nuclear matrix elements required to interpret future searches for neutrinoless double β decays in terms of fundamental quantities. The problems include the huge number of required quark-line contractions and the exponentially decaying signal-to-noise ratio, but there are theoretical advances that increasingly allow to bring these under control. The main competing procedures are more or less direct applications of the Lüscher method to multi-baryon systems, and the HALQCD method of computing a nuclear potential from Bethe-Salpeter amplitudes and solving the Schrödinger equation for that potential. There has been a lot of progress in this field, and there are now first results for nuclear reaction rates.

Next, Mike Endres spoke about new simulation strategies for lattice QCD. One of the major problems in going to very fine lattice spacings is the well-known phenomenon critical slowing-down, i.e. the divergence of the autocorrelation times with some negative power of the lattice spacing, which is particularly severe for the topological charge (a quantity that cannot change at all in the continuum limit), leading to the phenomenon of "topology freezing" in simulations at fine lattice spacings. To overcome this problem, changes in the boundary conditions have been proposed: open boundary conditions that allow topological charge to move into and out of the system, and non-orientable boundary conditions that destroy the notion of an integer topological charge. An alternative route lies in algorithmic modifications such as metadynamics, where a potential bias is introduced to disfavour revisiting configurations, so as to forcibly sample across the potential wells of different topological sectors over time, or multiscale thermalization, where a Markov chain is first run at a coarse lattice spacing to obtain well-decorrelated configurations, and then each of those is subjected to a refining operation to obtain a (non-thermalized) gauge configuration at half the lattice spacing, each of which can then hopefully thermalized by a short sequence of Monte Carlo update operations.

As another example of new algorithmic ideas, Shinji Takeda presented tensor networks, which are mathematical objects that assign a tensor to each site of a lattice, with lattice links denoting the contraction of tensor indices. An example is given by the rewriting of the partition function of the Ising model that is at the heart of the high-temperature expansion, where the sum over the spin variables is exchanged against a sum over link variables taking values of 0 or 1. One of the applications of tensor networks in field theory is that they allow for an implementation of the renormalization group based on performing a tensor decomposition along the lines of a singular value decomposition, which can be truncated, and contracting the resulting approximate tensor decomposition into new tensors living on a coarser grid. Iterating this procedure until only one lattice site remains allows the evaluation of partition functions without running into any sign problems and at only O(log V) effort.

After the coffee break, Sara Collins gave the review talk on hadron structure. This is also a field in which a lot of progress has been made recently, with most of the sources of systematic error either under control (e.g. by performing simulations at or near the physical pion mass) or at least well understood (e.g. excited-state and finite-volume effects). The isovector axial charge gA of the nucleon, which for a long time was a bit of an embarrassment to lattice practitioners, since it stubbornly refused to approach its experimental value, is now understood to be particularly severely affected by excited-state effects, and once these are well enough suppressed or properly accounted for, the situation now looks quite promising. This lends much larger credibility to lattice predictions for the scalar and tensor nucleon charges, for which little or no experimental data exists. The electromagnetic form factors are also in much better shape than one or two years ago, with the electric Sachs form factor coming out close to experiment (but still with insufficient precision to resolve the conflict between the experimental electron-proton scattering and muonic hydrogen results), while now the magnetic Sachs form factor shows a trend to undershoot experiment. Going beyond isovector quantities (in which disconnected diagrams cancel), the progress in simulation techniques for disconnected diagrams has enabled the first computation of the purely disconnected strangeness form factors. The sigma term σπN comes out smaller on the lattice than it does in experiment, which still needs investigation, and the average momentum fraction <x> still needs to become the subject of a similar effort as the nucleon charges have received.

In keeping with the pattern of having large review talks immediately followed by a related topical talk, Huey-Wen Lin was next with a talk on the Bjorken-x dependence of the parton distribution functions (PDFs). While the PDFs are defined on the lightcone, which is not readily accessible on the lattice, a large-momentum effective theory formulation allows to obtain them as the infinite-momentum limit of finite-momentum parton distribution amplitudes. First studies show interesting results, but renormalization still remains to be performed.

After lunch, there were parallel sessions, of which I attended the ones into which most of the (g-2) talks had been collected, showing quite a rate of progress in terms of the treatment of in particular the disconnected contributions.

In the evening, the poster session took place.