, Volume 250, Issue 3, pp 433-471
Date: 07 Apr 2004

Open-String Vertex Algebras, Tensor Categories and Operads

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We introduce notions of open-string vertex algebra, conformal open-string vertex algebra and variants of these notions. These are “open-string-theoretic”, “noncommutative” generalizations of the notions of vertex algebra and of conformal vertex algebra. Given an open-string vertex algebra, we show that there exists a vertex algebra, which we call the “meromorphic center,” inside the original algebra such that the original algebra yields a module and also an intertwining operator for the meromorphic center. This result gives us a general method for constructing open-string vertex algebras. Besides obvious examples obtained from associative algebras and vertex (super)algebras, we give a nontrivial example constructed from the minimal model of central charge We establish an equivalence between the associative algebras in the braided tensor category of modules for a suitable vertex operator algebra and the grading-restricted conformal open-string vertex algebras containing a vertex operator algebra isomorphic to the given vertex operator algebra. We also give a geometric and operadic formulation of the notion of grading-restricted conformal open-string vertex algebra, we prove two isomorphism theorems, and in particular, we show that such an algebra gives a projective algebra over what we call the “Swiss-cheese partial operad.”

Communicated by M.R. Douglas
Acknowledgement. We would like to thank Jürgen Fuchs and Christoph Schweigert for helpful discussions and comments. We are also grateful to Jim Lepowsky for comments. The research of Y.-Z. H. is supported in part by NSF grant DMS-0070800.