High Energy Theory Seminar
Wilson loops are important observables in gauge theory. In this talk, we study half-BPS Wilson loops of a large class of five dimensional supersymmetric quiver gauge theories with 8 supercharges, in a nontrivial instanton background. The Wilson loops are codimension 4 defects of the quiver gauge theory, and their interaction with self-dual instantons is captured by a 1d ADHM quantum mechanics. We compute the partition function as its Witten index. It turns out that we can understand the 5d physics in 3d gauge theory terms. This comes about from so-called gauge/vortex duality; namely, we study the vortices on the Higgs branch of the 5d theory, and reinterpret its partition function from the point of view of the vortices. This perspective has an advantage: it has a dual description in terms of "deformed" Toda Theory on a cylinder, in the Coulomb gas formalism. We show that the gauge theory partition function is equal to a (chiral) correlator of the deformed Toda Theory, with stress tensor and higher spin operator insertions. We derive all the above results from type IIB string theory, compactified on a resolved $ADE$ singularity $X$ times a cylinder with punctures. The 5d quiver gauge theory arises as the low energy limit of a system of D5 branes wrapping various two-cycles of $X$, the Wilson loops are D1 branes, and the duality to Toda theory emerges after introducing additional D3 branes.