Critical 2d Potts model

In two dimensions, the critical Potts model is believed to have an infinite-dimensional symmetry algebra, which makes it accessible to analytic methods of two-dimensional conformal field theory. There may be a realistic prospect of solving it, in the sense of analytically (or semi-analytically) computing observables such as cluster connectivities.


The Potts model is a statistical model that generalizes the Ising model, and includes percolation as a special case. Therefore, it generalizes and unifies statistical models of fundamental interest.

In two dimensions and in the critical limit, the model may be solvable. The torus partition function is already known analytically. Powerful methods such as the conformal bootstrap can be used. In higher dimensions, the model's lack of unitarity would be an obstacle to using standard conformal bootstrap methods. But in two dimensions, conformal symmetry is more powerful and non-unitary models can be solved.

Type of projectEdit

Tools: Given the known information on the spectrum that was obtained by other means,[1] it may be possible to complete the solution of the model using the bootstrap method, analytic[2] and/or semi-analytic.[3] Interpreting the results in terms of statistical observables such as cluster connectivities and/or spin correlation functions may however require going back to the statistical description.[4]

Chances of success: The known results on describing some observables exactly or approximately can surely be generalized to some extent. However, it is not known whether it is possible to build a consistent CFT from observables in the Potts model, and if so, whether that CFT includes all interesting observables. The scope of the project is therefore not precisely defined.

Length and difficulty: The known spectrum contains several qualitatively different infinite series of states. The statistical model contains various interesting observables. And even after solving the model for generic numbers of states, understanding special cases would require a lot of work. Solving the 2d critical Potts model is something in between a project and a field of research.

Known resultsEdit

Some aspects of the model are reviewed in the literature, in the loop model approach[5] or in the conformal booststrap approach.[6]


The torus partition function is known exactly, see ref.[7] or ref.[8] for reviews. We write   the character of a diagonal degenerate representation with  . We write   the character of the generally non-diagonal representation  . The torus partition function reads


where we define




However, in contrast to what happens in CFTs such as minimal models, the partition function does not fully characterize the spectrum. The partition function characterizes the eigenvalues of the generator   of the Virasoro algebra, but this is not enough for characterizing the action of the full algebra when that generator is not diagonalizable. And the spectrum of the Potts model is known to involve some representations where   is not diagonalizable.


In addition to the spectrum, the statistical model's observables include spin correlation functions and cluster connectivities. Spin correlation functions are a priori defined only when the number of states is an integer  . Spin clusters allow the model to be reformulated such that   is an arbitrary complex number.[9]

It is natural to assume that in the critical limit, spin correlation functions tend to correlation functions of primary fields in a CFT. Somewhat less naturally, this assumption is also extended to cluster connectivities, at least for 2, 3 and 4-point connectivities.

Fusion rulesEdit

In order to compute correlation functions, we should know not only the spectrum, but also which states contribute to which correlation functions: in other words, the fusion rules. A piece of information is already known: which states contribute to four-point connectivities in various channels.[1] However, four-point connectivities are only a very special type of correlation functions.

Correlation functionsEdit

Four-point connectivities can be compared to results from the lattice approach[1] or from Monte-Carlo calculations[6]. They have been determined using a semi-analytic bootstrap approach.[10] The connectivity   is the unique solution where the field   propagates in all three channels, in addition to non-diagonal fields. The connectivity   is characterized by adding three fields in the s-channel:  , and the degenerate fields   and  .

Work to be doneEdit

Determining the spectrumEdit

The structure of Virasoro representations is already known.[10] What is missing is the action of the symmetric group  . In the closely related case of the   model, this has been determined using methods that should also work in the Potts model.[11]

Bootstrapping four-point functionsEdit

Connectivites are very special types of four-point functions. But in order to solve the model, we should in principle compute four-point functions of arbitrary fields. Once the spectrum is known and bootstrap techniques are available, the remaining missing ingredients are the fusion rules.

It is possible to adopt the null assumption that all states can appear in all channels of all four-point functions, but this may lead to unresolvable ambiguities. It would probably be better to guess the fusion rules, based on the known cases and on algebraic constraints from Virasoro symmetry, and to test the guesses by checking crossing symmetry.

Interpreting correlation functionsEdit

Assuming that crossing-symmetric four-point functions are found, we have a consistent CFT. There remains the problem of interpreting its correlation functions in terms of the original Potts model.

The CFT will a priori include four-point functions that correspond to four-point connectivities. Linear combinations of four-point functions may correspond to spin four-point functions[4]. Spin correlation functions are originally defined only if the number of states   is integer, but they may well make sense of any complex   by analytic continuation.[12] The interpretation of higher correlation functions is however less clear.

Spin clustersEdit

Spin clusters differ from Fortuin-Kasteleyn clusters. Spin cluster connectivities are described by fields with Kac indices  , versus   for FK cluster connectivities. There should also exist an energy field, i.e. a diagonal field with Kac indices  , such that[13]


By standard bootstrap results, this implies that the   field is not degenerate. This may not contradict the existence of another field with indices  , which would be degenerate. This would then imply that the field   is diagonal, otherwise its fusion with the degenerate field would produce non-diagonal fields with half-integer spins.[2] This would also imply that the energy field belongs to a logarithmic representation with Jordan cells of rank three.[10]

To bootstrap these non-vanishing three-point functions, one could take inspiration from FK cluster connectivities, and try to compute the spin cluster connectivity   by adding three fields in the s-channel:  , the degenerate field  , and the non-degenerate field  .

Limits and special casesEdit

Cases of particular interest, including percolation, occur for rational values of the central charge, where the algebraic and analytic structures of CFT become more complicated. Understanding the behaviour of the spectrum in such cases is already challenging. Moreover, in correlation functions, we expect that the limit is finite due to cancellations of infinitely many singularities.[1][14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Jacobsen, Jesper Lykke; Saleur, Hubert (2019). "Bootstrap approach to geometrical four-point functions in the two-dimensional critical Q-state Potts model: a study of the s-channel spectra". Journal of High Energy Physics (Springer Science and Business Media LLC) 2019 (1). doi:10.1007/jhep01(2019)084. ISSN 1029-8479. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Migliaccio, Santiago; Ribault, Sylvain (2018). "The analytic bootstrap equations of non-diagonal two-dimensional CFT". Journal of High Energy Physics 2018 (5). doi:10.1007/jhep05(2018)169. ISSN 1029-8479. 
  3. Picco, Marco; Ribault, Sylvain; Santachiara, Raoul (2016-10-27). "A conformal bootstrap approach to critical percolation in two dimensions". SciPost Physics 1 (1). doi:10.21468/scipostphys.1.1.009. ISSN 2542-4653. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Delfino, Gesualdo; Viti, Jacopo (2011). "Potts q-color field theory and scaling random cluster model". Nuclear Physics B (Elsevier BV) 852 (1): 149–173. doi:10.1016/j.nuclphysb.2011.06.012. ISSN 0550-3213. 
  5. Jacobsen, Jesper Lykke (2012). "Loop Models and Boundary CFT". Conformal Invariance: an Introduction to Loops, Interfaces and Stochastic Loewner Evolution. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 141–183. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-27934-8_4. ISBN 978-3-642-27933-1. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Picco, Marco; Ribault, Sylvain; Santachiara, Raoul (2019-10-07). "On four-point connectivities in the critical 2d Potts model". SciPost Physics (Stichting SciPost) 7 (4). doi:10.21468/scipostphys.7.4.044. ISSN 2542-4653. 
  7. Gorbenko, Victor; Rychkov, Slava; Zan, Bernardo (2018-11-22). "Walking, Weak first-order transitions, and Complex CFTs II. Two-dimensional Potts model at $Q>4$". SciPost Physics (Stichting SciPost) 5 (5). doi:10.21468/scipostphys.5.5.050. 
  8. Grans-Samuelsson, Linnea; Liu, Lawrence; He, Yifei; Jacobsen, Jesper Lykke; Saleur, Hubert (2020-07-22). "The action of the Virasoro algebra in the two-dimensional Potts and loop models at generic $Q$". Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  9. Fortuin, C.M.; Kasteleyn, P.W. (1972). "On the random-cluster model". Physica (Elsevier BV) 57 (4): 536–564. doi:10.1016/0031-8914(72)90045-6. ISSN 0031-8914. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Nivesvivat, Rongvoram; Ribault, Sylvain (2020-07-08). "Logarithmic CFT at generic central charge: from Liouville theory to the $Q$-state Potts model". doi:10.21468/SciPostPhys.10.1.021. Retrieved 2021-11-20.
  11. Grans-Samuelsson, Linnea; Nivesvivat, Rongvoram; Jacobsen, Jesper Lykke; Ribault, Sylvain; Saleur, Hubert (2021-11-01). "Global symmetry and conformal bootstrap in the two-dimensional $O(n)$ model". Retrieved 2021-11-20.
  12. Binder, Damon; Rychkov, Slava (2019). "Deligne Categories in Lattice Models and Quantum Field Theory, or Making Sense of O(N) Symmetry with Non-integer N". arXiv:1911.07895.
  13. Picco, Marco; Santachiara, Raoul (2021-11-06). "On the CFT describing the spin clusters in 2d Potts model". Retrieved 2021-11-20.
  14. Ribault, Sylvain (2019-06-25). "On 2d CFTs that interpolate between minimal models". SciPost Physics (Stichting SciPost) 6 (6). doi:10.21468/scipostphys.6.6.075. ISSN 2542-4653.