Foundations of Gauge Theories
2:30pm Friday, March 21 - 12pm Sunday, March 23, 2014
Location: Social and Behavior Science Gateway (SBSG) 1517

Organizers: Jeff Barrett (LPS, UC Irvine), Hans Halvorson (Philosophy, Princeton), Giovanni Valente
(Philosophy, Pittsburgh), and Jim Weatherall (LPS, UC Irvine)

How do our best theories in mathematical physics represent to the world? Standard lore in physics and
philosophy of physics holds that the structural features of our mathematical theories stand in some sort of correspondence (or approximate correspondence) with structural features of the world. But in certain notable cases, it is believed that this relationship is partial, in the sense that only some of the mathematical structure of our theories does representational work. In such cases, the theory is called a “gauge theory”, a term that indicates that the theory has “excess structure”. Some of our most important contemporary theories in physics – including Einstein’s general theory of relativity and the Standard Model of particle physics – have been described as gauge theories. But there are deep puzzles underlying the very notion of “gauge”. How can we come to know that a part of the mathematical structure of our theories does not represent anything? What does it mean to say that mathematical structure is “excess” or unnecessary? Can excess structure be removed, and if so, what relationship holds between a gauge theory and the theory without the extra structure? This workshop will address foundational questions concerning the nature of "gauge" theories in classical and quantum physics.

The conference program is below; it can also be downloaded here.  Abstracts for all talks can be found here.

Radisson Hotel Shuttle Schedule found here.

Friday 21 March

2:30pm. Introductory Remarks

2:40pm. Chris Smeenk (Western)
“Three Positions on Gauge”

4:10pm. Coffee Break

4:30pm. Jenann Ismael (Arizona)
“Introduction to Symmetry as a Guide to Superfluous Structure”

7:00pm. Conference Dinner: Las Brisas Restaurant 361 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, Ca 92651

Saturday 22 March

9:00am. Richard Healey (Arizona)
“New Thoughts on Yang-Mills Theories”

10:30am. Coffee Break

11:00am. Gordon Belot (Michigan)
“Symmetry, Infinity, and Redundancy”

12:30pm. Lunch

2:30pm. Michael Mueger (Nijmegen)
“Global symmetry in algebraic QFT: DHR theory and ramifications”

4:00pm. Coffee Break

4:30pm. Panel on Gauge Structure in Rigorous Approaches to Quantum Field Theory
Participants: Doreen Fraser (Waterloo), Hans Halvorson (Princeton), Arthur Jaffe (Harvard), Michael Mueger (Nijmegen)

Sunday 23 March

10:00am. Informal Discussion / Wrap-Up (Social Science Tower 777)

This conference will be immediately preceded by the second Irvine-Pittsburgh-Princeton Conference on the Mathematical and Conceptual Foundations of Physics. For more information on this event, see /node/24847.

The organizers gratefully acknowledge support from the School of Social Sciences at UCI, the UCI Interdisciplinary Program in History and Philosophy of Science, and the Foundational Questions Institute.

For further information, please contact James Weatherall,


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