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New strong dynamics beyond the standard model, Fall 2017

Major experiments are underway and planned around the world to search for new physics beyond the standard model (BSM). They are accompanied by comparable theoretical efforts to gain insight into issues including the stabilization of the electroweak scale and the nature of dark matter. The possibility that such new physics may be strongly coupled presents both challenges for theoretical analyses as well as opportunities to advance our understanding of nature.

This course introduced some of the most prominent proposed extensions of the standard model in which new strong dynamics play a central role. After presenting the basic conceptual frameworks for both composite Higgs models and composite dark matter models, we reviewed current phenomenological constraints and the prospects for future discoveries. We also considered the role of lattice gauge theory as a means to obtain non-perturbative predictions for these strongly interacting systems.

Learning outcome

Upon completing this course, students are able to:


We met from 10:15 to 12 on the following Thursdays and Tuesdays:

2 November: Lecture notes
Course overview; Motivations for BSM in general and new strong dynamics in particular; Electroweak symmetry breaking (EWSB) via QCD-like new strong dynamics and resulting challenges

9 November: Lecture notes
EW precision observables (S parameter); PNGB composite Higgs motivation; "Minimal Composite Higgs Model" (CCWZ construction and decoupling limit); Radiative EWSB from vacuum misalignment

16 November: Lecture notes
Vacuum misalignment via partial compositeness; Flavor physics from partial compositeness; "Minimal" UV completions; Partially composite UV completions

21 November: Lecture notes
Composite Higgs phenomenology: Direct searches for heavy resonances; Indirect constraints from Higgs couplings, EW precision observables, and flavor physics

28 November: Lecture notes
Lattice gauge theory: Space-time discretization and continuum limit; Lattice actions; Wilson vs. staggered vs. domain wall lattice fermions; Application to spectra of composite Higgs models; Supplement: Near conformality and anomalous dimensions

5 December: Lecture notes
Lattice gauge theory application to low-energy coefficients of composite Higgs EFTs; Evidence for dark matter (DM); Resulting features of DM; Motivations for composite DM

12 December: Lecture notes
Production of DM in early universe; Ongoing searches for DM (direct detection, indirect detection, collider production); Overview of composite DM candidates; Representative models of mesonic composite DM

19 December: Lecture notes
Representative models of non-mesonic composite DM; Stealth Dark Matter model; Lattice gauge theory applications to composite DM (direct detection and collider searches); Supplement: Indirect detection and gravitational waves


The assumed background is exposure to quantum field theory and the standard model of particle physics (including group theory, gauge theory and spontaneous symmetry breaking), at the level of standard textbooks such as those by Peskin and Schroeder, Srednicki, or Schwartz. However, even without this experience students should be able to take away the main qualitative points of the course and fill in more details through subsequent studies.

Useful references on composite Higgs and composite dark matter physics include:

In addition to standard textbooks such as those by DeGrand and DeTar, or Gattringer and Lang, the following references on lattice gauge theory are also useful:

Last modified 22 January 2018

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