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Non-invertible Symmetries and Higher Representation Theory II

by Thomas Bartsch, Mathew Bullimore, Andrea E. V. Ferrari, Jamie Pearson

Submission summary

Authors (as registered SciPost users): Thomas Bartsch · Andrea Ferrari
Submission information
Preprint Link: scipost_202402_00004v2  (pdf)
Date submitted: 2024-03-19 14:23
Submitted by: Bartsch, Thomas
Submitted to: SciPost Physics
Ontological classification
Academic field: Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics - Theory
  • High-Energy Physics - Theory
  • Mathematical Physics
Approach: Theoretical


In this paper we continue our investigation of the global categorical symmetries that arise when gauging finite higher groups and their higher subgroups with discrete torsion. The motivation is to provide a common perspective on the construction of non-invertible global symmetries in higher dimensions and a precise description of the associated symmetry categories. We propose that the symmetry categories obtained by gauging higher subgroups may be defined as higher group-theoretical fusion categories, which are built from the projective higher representations of higher groups. As concrete applications we provide a unified description of the symmetry categories of gauge theories in three and four dimensions based on the Lie algebra $\mathfrak{so}(N)$, and a fully categorical description of non-invertible symmetries obtained by gauging a 1-form symmetry with a mixed 't Hooft anomaly. We also discuss the effect of discrete torsion on symmetry categories, based a series of obstructions determined by spectral sequence arguments.

Author comments upon resubmission

We thank the referee for their detailed report and for pointing out instances with a need for clarification in our paper. Below, we address some of the questions raised in the report:

• Fibre functors: The second bullet point on page six is intended to give an alternative interpretation of the category Rep(G) for a finite group G, which may be interpreted as the category of functors F: BG -> Vec from the delooping of G into Vec. We refrain from calling these “fibre functors” as the latter term is usually reserved for cases where the pre-image of the functor is a (higher) fusion category corresponding to the symmetry category of a given theory (and not the delooping of a finite group, which is not a fusion category).

• Condensation defects: Condensation defects are (partly) labelled by subgroups: While simple objects in 2Rep(G) are labelled by pairs (H,c) consisting of a subgroup H ⊂ G and a class c ∈ H^2(H,U(1)) , two such simple objects (H,c) and (H’,c’) are considered equivalent if there exists a group element g ∈ G such that H’ = gHg^(-1) and c’ = c^g. From a physical point of view, a symmetry defect labelled by (H,c) corresponds to a surface where the bulk gauge symmetry G is broken down to H and supplemented by an SPT phase c. In particular, there is no physical distinction between surfaces obtained by gauging conjugate subgroups H and H’, since they only differ by a residual symmetry transformation g on the defect. This will be clarified in an updated version of Part I and is stated in the first paragraph of page 25 of Part II.

• Bimodule classification: The definition of \Phi_g as in eq. (2.11) is the natural one given the left- and right-morphisms l and r of a bimodule, and is also the standard definition appearing in the mathematical literature on the classification of such bimodules [24]. We implement the redefinition (2.13) to achieve a more canonical form of the 2-cocycle (2.14), but retain its original form for comparison.

• Cohomology of 2-groups: We are not aware of a group-cohomology classification of the cohomology of the classifying space of a 2-group. Our notation H^n(\mathcal{G}, U(1)) is explained in footnote 5.

• Gauging extensions in 2d: We included section 2.4 with the presented level of detail to make completely apparent the analogy with the gauging of sub-2-groups discussed in section 3.4 (in particular the analogy between figure 13 and figures 30/31).

List of changes

Below, we summarise the relevant changes that we made in order to address the main points raised in the report:

• TQFT coefficients: Given a surface defect X in three dimensions, one may in principle obtain new surface defects by stacking X with decoupled 2d TQFTs. However, since 2d fully extended stable TQFTs are (up to equivalence) completely classified by positive integers n (corresponding to their number of vacua), stacking such a TQFT T_n on top of X simply corresponds to taking the direct sum T_n ⊗ X = X ⊕ … ⊕ X = n ⋅ X. This is the nature of integer fusion coefficients in equations such as (3.1). In particular, the mathematical fusion rules are not associated to particular topologies of the surface defects but internal to the fusion 2-category under consideration. We clarified our treatment of Euler terms in a footnote on page 23.

• Typos:
- Added (−1) to \alpha|_H = (d\psi)^(−1) above eq. (1.1) in the introduction. We choose this convention to interpret \psi(h_1, h_2) as the phase assigned to the junction of two H-lines, as illustrated in figure 2.
- Further explained the notation used in eq. (1.2).
- Fixed typo (”now” repeated) in first sentence of section 4.5.
- Clarified our usage of twisted group cohomology by a footnote on page 35.
- Added “orbifold branch” to the first sentence of the second paragraph of section 2.6.

Current status:
Awaiting resubmission

Reports on this Submission

Anonymous Report 1 on 2024-5-14 (Invited Report)


The authors have addressed most of questions, except for the point about TQFT dressing in D=4: they only find Turaev-Viro type TQFT, while it is well known that other TQFTs can appear. I will recommend the paper for publication provided the author will resolve or comment about this issue.


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