Moonshine, superconformal symmetry, and quantum error correction

Jeffrey A. Harvey, Gregory W. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Special conformal field theories can have symmetry groups which are interesting sporadic finite simple groups. Famous examples include the Monster symmetry group of a c = 24 two-dimensional conformal field theory (CFT) constructed by Frenkel, Lepowsky and Meurman, and the Conway symmetry group of a c = 12 CFT explored in detail by Duncan and Mack-Crane. The Mathieu moonshine connection between the K3 elliptic genus and the Mathieu group M24 has led to the study of K3 sigma models with large symmetry groups. A particular K3 CFT with a maximal symmetry group preserving (4, 4) superconformal symmetry was studied in beautiful work by Gaberdiel, Taormina, Volpato, and Wendland [41]. The present paper shows that in both the GTVW and c = 12 theories the construction of superconformal generators can be understood via the theory of quantum error correcting codes. The automorphism groups of these codes lift to symmetry groups in the CFT preserving the superconformal generators. In the case of the N = 1 supercurrent of the GTVW model our result, combined with a result of T. Johnson-Freyd implies the symmetry group is the maximal subgroup of M24 known as the sextet group. (The sextet group is also known as the holomorph of the hexacode.) Building on [41] the Ramond-Ramond sector of the GTVW model is related to the Miracle Octad Generator which in turn leads to a role for the Golay code as a group of symmetries of RR states. Moreover, (4, 1) superconformal symmetry suffices to define and decompose the elliptic genus of a K3 sigma model into characters of the N = 4 superconformal algebra. The symmetry group preserving (4, 1) is larger than that preserving (4, 4).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number146
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


  • Conformal Field Models in String Theory
  • Conformal Field Theory
  • Discrete Symmetries


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