The Department of Logic & Philosophy of Science presents

"Foundations of Gauge Theories"

March 21-23, 2014
Social and Behavior Science Gateway (SBSG), Room 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.

For additional information, including a list of speakers, please visit

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

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

For further information, please contact James Weatherall,

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