Abstract:
The parameter-space orbifold construction of open and unoriented toroidal and (target-space) orbifold compactifications is briefly reviewed, with emphasis on the underlying geometrical framework. A class of chiral four-dimensional type-I vacua with three generations is also discussed.

Abstract:
We discuss the open descendants of diagonal irrational $Z_3$ orbifolds, starting from the $c=2$ case and analyzing six-dimensional and four-dimensional models. As recently argued, their consistency is linked to the presence of geometric discrete moduli. The different classes of open descendants, related to different resolutions of the fixed-point ambiguities, are distinguished by the number of geometric fixed points surviving the unoriented projection.

Abstract:
Some examples of Type-I vacua related to non geometric orbifolds are shown. In particular, the open descendants of the diagonal $Z_3$ orbifold are compared with the geometric ones. Although not chiral, these models exhibit some interesting properties, like twisted sectors in the open-string spectra and the presence of ``quantized'' geometric moduli, a key ingredient to ensure their perturbative consistency and to explain the rank reduction of their Chan-Paton groups.

Abstract:
We study four dimensional $Z_2 \times Z_2$ (shift)-orientifolds in presence of internal magnetic fields and NS-NS $B$-field backgrounds, describing in some detail one explicit example with N=1 supersymmetry. These models are related by $T$-duality to orientifolds with $D$-branes intersecting at angles and exhibit, due to the background fields, a rank reduction of the gauge group and multiple matter families. Moreover, the low-energy spectra are chiral and anomaly free if $D5$-branes are present along the magnetized directions.

Abstract:
The study of string models including both unoriented closed strings and open strings presents a number of new features when compared to the standard case of models of oriented closed strings only. We review some basic features of the construction of these models, describing in particular how gauge symmetry breaking can be achieved in this case. We also review some peculiar properties of the Green-Schwarz anomaly cancellation mechanism that present themselves in lower-dimensional open-string models.(Figures not included) (Talk presented at the Tenth National General Relativity Conference, Bardonecchia, September 1992)

Abstract:
Orientifold vacua allow the simultaneous presence of supersymmetric bulks, with one or more gravitinos, and non-supersymmetric combinations of BPS branes. This ``brane supersymmetry breaking'' raises the issue of consistency for the resulting gravitino couplings, and Dudas and Mourad recently provided convincing arguments to this effect for the ten-dimensional $USp(32)$ model. These rely on a non-linear realization of local supersymmetry {\it \`a la} Volkov-Akulov, although no gravitino mass term is present, and the couplings have a nice geometrical interpretation in terms of ``dressed'' bulk fields, aside from a Wess-Zumino-like term, resulting from the supersymmetrization of the Chern-Simons couplings. Here we show that {\it all} couplings can be given a geometrical interpretation, albeit in the dual 6-form model, whose bulk includes a Wess-Zumino term, so that the non-geometric ones are in fact demanded by the geometrization of their duals. We also determine the low-energy couplings for six-dimensional (1,0) models with brane supersymmetry breaking. Since these include both Chern-Simons and Wess-Zumino terms, only the resulting field equations are geometrical, aside from contributions due to vectors of supersymmetric sectors.

Abstract:
We study deformations of $Z_2 \times Z_2$ (shift-)orientifolds in four dimensions in the presence of both uniform Abelian internal magnetic fields and quantized NS-NS $B_{ab}$ backgrounds, that are shown to be equivalent to asymmetric shift-orbifold projections. These models are related by $T$-duality to orientifolds with $D$-branes intersecting at angles. As in corresponding six-dimensional examples, $D9$-branes magnetized along two internal directions acquire a charge with respect to the R-R six form, contributing to the tadpole of the orthogonal $D5$-branes (``brane transmutation''). The resulting models exhibit rank reduction of the gauge group and multiple matter families, due both to the quantized $B_{ab}$ and to the background magnetic fields. Moreover, the low-energy spectra are chiral and anomaly free if additional $D5$-branes longitudinal to the magnetized directions are present, and if there are no Ramond-Ramond tadpoles in the corresponding twisted sectors of the undeformed models.

Abstract:
In non-diagonal conformal models, the boundary fields are not directly related to the bulk spectrum. We illustrate some of their features by completing previous work of Lewellen on sewing constraints for conformal theories in the presence of boundaries. As a result, we include additional open sectors in the descendants of $D_{odd}$ $SU(2)$ WZW models. A new phenomenon emerges, the appearance of multiplicities and fixed-point ambiguities in the boundary algebra not inherited from the closed sector. We conclude by deriving a set of polynomial equations, similar to those satisfied by the fusion-rule coefficients $N_{ij}^k$, for a new tensor $A_{a b}^i$ that determines the open spectrum.

Abstract:
We discuss some Z_N^L x Z_N^R orbifold compactifications of the type IIB superstring to D= 4,6 dimensions and their type I descendants. Although the Z_N^L x Z_N^R generators act asymmetrically on the chiral string modes, they result into left-right symmetric models that admit sensible unorientable reductions. We carefully work out the phases that appear in the modular transformations of the chiral amplitudes and identify the possibility of introducing discrete torsion. We propose a simplifying ansatz for the construction of the open-string descendants in which the transverse-channel Klein-bottle, annulus and Moebius-strip amplitudes are numerically identical in the proper parametrization of the world-sheet. A simple variant of the ansatz for the Z_2^L x Z_2^R orbifold gives rise to models with supersymmetry breaking in the open-string sector.