Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Dr. Alfred Shapere


We study constraints imposed on a general unitary two-dimensional conformal field theory by modular invariance. We begin with a review of previous bounds on the conformal dimension Delta1 of the lowest primary operator assuming unitarity, a discrete spectrum, modular invariance, cL, cR > 1, and no extended chiral algebra. We then obtain bounds on the conformal dimensions Delta2, Delta3 using no additional assumptions. We also show that in order to find a bound for Delta4 or higher Deltan, we need to assume a larger minimum value for ctot that grows logarithmically with n. We next extend the previous results to remove the requirement that our two-dimensional conformal field theories have no extended chiral algebra.

We then show that modular invariance also implies an upper bound on the total number of states of positive energy less than ctot=24 (or equivalently, states of conformal dimension between ctot=24 and ctot=12), in terms of the number of negative energy states. Finally, we consider the case where the CFT has a gravitational dual and investigate the gravitational interpretation of our results. Using the AdS3/CFT2 correspondence, we obtain an upper bound on the lightest few massive excitations (both with and without the constraint of no chiral primary operators) in a theory of 3D matter and gravity with Lambda < 0. We show our results are consistent with facts and expectations about the spectrum of BTZ black holes in 2+1 gravity. We then discuss the upper and lower bounds on number of states and primary operators in the dual gravitational theory, focusing on the case of AdS3 pure gravity.