Abstract:
In this short review we outline some recent developments in understanding string orbifolds. In particular, we outline the recent observation that string orbifolds do not precisely describe string propagation on quotient spaces, but rather are literally sigma models on objects called quotient stacks, which are closely related to (but not quite the same as) quotient spaces. We show how this is an immediate consequence of definitions, and also how this explains a number of features of string orbifolds, from the fact that the CFT is well-behaved to orbifold Euler characteristics. Put another way, many features of string orbifolds previously considered ``stringy'' are now understood as coming from the target-space geometry; one merely needs to identify the correct target-space geometry.

Abstract:
In this paper we describe explicitly how the twisted ``bundles'' on a D-brane worldvolume in the presence of a nontrivial B field, can be understood in terms of sheaves on stacks. We also take this opportunity to provide the physics community with a readable introduction to stacks and generalized spaces.

Abstract:
In this note we observe that, contrary to the usual lore, string orbifolds do not describe strings on quotient spaces, but rather seem to describe strings on objects called quotient stacks, a result that follows from simply unraveling definitions, and is further justified by a number of results. Quotient stacks are very closely related to quotient spaces; for example, when the orbifold group acts freely, the quotient space and the quotient stack are homeomorphic. We explain how sigma models on quotient stacks naturally have twisted sectors, and why a sigma model on a quotient stack would be a nonsingular CFT even when the associated quotient space is singular. We also show how to understand twist fields in this language, and outline the derivation of the orbifold Euler characteristic purely in terms of stacks. We also outline why there is a sense in which one naturally finds B nonzero on exceptional divisors of resolutions. These insights are not limited to merely understanding existing string orbifolds: we also point out how this technology enables us to understand orbifolds in M-theory, as well as how this means that string orbifolds provide the first example of an entirely new class of string compactifications. As quotient stacks are not a staple of the physics literature, we include a lengthy tutorial on quotient stacks.

Abstract:
This is the writeup of a lecture given at the May Wisconsin workshop on mathematical aspects of orbifold string theory. In the first part of this lecture, we review recent work on discrete torsion, and outline how it is currently understood in terms of the B field. In the second part of this lecture, we discuss the relationship between quotient stacks and string orbifolds.

Abstract:
In this paper we describe how Grothendieck groups of coherent sheaves and locally free sheaves can be used to describe type II D-branes, in the case that all D-branes are wrapped on complex varieties and all connections are holomorphic. Our proposal is in the same spirit as recent discussions of K-theory and D-branes; within the restricted class mentioned, Grothendieck groups encode a choice of connection on each D-brane worldvolume, in addition to information about the smooth bundles. We also point out that derived categories can also be used to give insight into D-brane constructions, and analyze how a Z_2 subset of the T-duality group acting on D-branes on tori can be understood in terms of a Fourier-Mukai transformation.

Abstract:
In this paper we analyze discrete torsion in perturbative heterotic string theory. In previous work we have given a purely mathematical explanation of discrete torsion as the choice of orbifold group action on a B field, in the case that d H = 0; in this paper, we perform the analogous calculations in heterotic strings where d H is nonzero.

Abstract:
In this short note we briefly review some recent developments in understanding discrete torsion. Specifically, we give a short overview of the highlights of a group of recent papers which give the basic understanding of discrete torsion. Briefly, those papers observe that discrete torsion can be completely understood simply as the choice of action of the orbifold group on the B field. We summarize the main points of that work.

Abstract:
In this article we shall outline a derivation of the analogue of discrete torsion for the M-theory three-form potential. We find that some of the differences between orbifold group actions on the C field are classified by H^3(G, U(1)). We also compute the phases that the low-energy effective action of a membrane on T^3 would see in the analogue of a twisted sector, and note that they are invariant under the obvious SL(3,Z) action.

Abstract:
In this article we explain discrete torsion. Put simply, discrete torsion is the choice of orbifold group action on the B field. We derive the classification H^2(G, U(1)), we derive the twisted sector phases appearing in string loop partition functions, we derive M. Douglas's description of discrete torsion for D-branes in terms of a projective representation of the orbifold group, and we outline how the results of Vafa-Witten fit into this framework. In addition, we observe that additional degrees of freedom (known as shift orbifolds) appear in describing orbifold group actions on B fields, in addition to those classified by H^2(G, U(1)), and explain how these new degrees of freedom appear in terms of twisted sector contributions to partition functions and in terms of orbifold group actions on D-brane worldvolumes. This paper represents a technically simplified version of prior papers by the author on discrete torsion. We repeat here technically simplified versions of results from those papers, and have included some new material.

Abstract:
In this paper we explicitly work out the precise relationship between Ext groups and massless modes of D-branes wrapped on complex submanifolds of Calabi-Yau manifolds. Specifically, we explicitly compute the boundary vertex operators for massless Ramond sector states, in open string B models describing Calabi-Yau manifolds at large radius, directly in BCFT using standard methods. Naively these vertex operators are in one-to-one correspondence with certain sheaf cohomology groups (as is typical for such vertex operator calculations), which are related to the desired Ext groups via spectral sequences. However, a subtlety in the physics of the open string B model has the effect of physically realizing those spectral sequences in BRST cohomology, so that the vertex operators are actually in one-to-one correspondence with Ext group elements. This gives an extremely concrete physical test of recent proposals regarding the relationship between derived categories and D-branes. We check these results extensively in numerous examples, and comment on several related issues.