Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Dr. Sumit R. Das


This thesis is devoted to the study of two important applications of gauge-gravity duality: the cosmological singularity problem and conformal fluid dynamics. Gauge-gravity duality is a concrete dual relationship between a gauge theory (such as electromagnetism, the theories of weak and strong interactions), and a theory of strings which contains gravity. The most concrete application of this duality is the AdS/CFT correspondence, where the theory containing gravity lives in the bulk of an asymptotically anti-de-Sitter space-time, while the dual gauge theory is a deformation of a conformal field theory which lives on the boundary of anti-de-Sitter space-time(AdS).

Our first application of gauge-gravity duality is to the cosmological singularity problem in string gravity. A cosmological singularity is defined as a spacelike region of space-time which is highly curved so that Einstein’s gravity theory can be no longer applied. In our setup the bulk space-time has low curvature in the far past and the physics is well described by supergravity (which is an extension of standard Einstein gravity). The cosmological singularity is driven by a time dependent string coupling in the bulk theory. The rate of change of the coupling is slow, but the net change of the coupling can be large. The dual description of this is a time dependent coupling of the boundary gauge theory. The coupling has a profile which is a constant in the far past and future and attains a small but finite value at intermediate times. We construct the supergravity solution, with the initial condition that the bulk space-time is pure AdS in the far past and show that the solution remains smooth in a derivative expansion without formation of black holes. However when the intermediate value of the string coupling becomes weak enough, space-time becomes highly curved and the supergravity approximation breaks down, mimicking a spacelike singularity. The resulting dynamics is analyzed in the dual gauge theory with a time dependent coupling constant which varies slowly. We develop an appropriate adiabatic expansion in the gauge theory in terms of coherent states and show that the time evolution continues to be smooth. We cannot, however, arrive at a definitive conclusion about the fate of the system at very late times when the coupling has again risen and supergravity again applies. One possibility is that the energy which has been supplied to the universe is simply extracted out and the space-time goes back to its initial state. This could provide a model for a bouncing cosmology. A second possibility is that dissipation leads to a thermal state at late time. If this possibility holds, we show that such a thermal state will be described either by a gas of strings or by a small black hole, but not by a big black hole. This means that in either case, the future space-time is close to AdS.

We then apply gauge-gravity duality to conformal fluid dynamics. The long wavelength behavior of any strongly coupled system with a finite mean free path is described by an appropriate fluid dynamics. The bulk dual of a fluid flow in the boundary theory is a black hole with a slowly varying horizon. In this work we consider certain fluid flows which become supersonic in some regions. It is well known that such flows present acoustic analogs of ergoregions and horizons, where acoustic waves cannot propagate in certain directions. Such acoustic horizons are expected to exhibit thermal radiation of acoustic waves with temperature essentially given by the gradient of the velocity at the acoustic horizon. We find acoustic analogs of black holes in charged conformal fluids and use gauge-gravity duality to construct dual gravity solutions. A certain class of gravitational quasinormal wave modes around these gravitational backgrounds perceives a horizon. Upon quantization, this implies that these gravitational modes should have a thermal spectrum.

The final issue that we study is fluid-gravity duality at zero temperature. The usual way of constructing gravity duals of fluid flows is by means of a small derivative expansion, in which the derivatives are much smaller than the temperature of the background black hole. Recently, it has been reported that for charged fluids, this procedure breaks down in the zero temperature limit. More precisely, corrections to the small derivative expansion in the dual gravity of charged fluid at zero temperature have singularities at the black hole horizon. In this case, fluid-gravity duality is not understood precisely. We explore this problem for a zero temperature charged fluid driven by a low frequency, small amplitude and spatially homogeneous external force. In the gravity dual, this force corresponds to a time dependent boundary value of the dilaton field. We calculate the bulk solution for the dilaton and the leading backreaction using a modified low frequency expansion. The resulting solutions are regular everywhere, establishing fluid-gravity duality to this order.