Abstract:
We formulate WZW models based on a centrally extended version of the Euclidean group in $d$-dimensions. We obtain string backgrounds corresponding to conformal $\s$-models in $D=d^2$ space-time dimensions with exact central charge $c=d^2$ and $d(d-1)/2$ null Killing vectors. By identifying the corresponding conformal field theory we show that the one loop results coincide with the exact ones up to a shifting of a parameter.

Abstract:
We consider gauged WZW models based on a four dimensional non-semi-simple group. We obtain conformal $\s$-models in $D=3$ spacetime dimensions (with exact central charge $c=3$) by axially and vectorially gauging a one-dimensional subgroup. The model obtained in the axial gauging is related to the $3D$ black string after a correlated limit is taken in the latter model. By identifying the CFT corresponding to these $\s$-models we compute the exact expressions for the metric and dilaton fields. All of our models can be mapped to flat spacetimes with zero antisymmetric tensor and dilaton fields via duality transformations.

Abstract:
Non--Abelian duality in relation to supersymmetry is examined. When the action of the isometry group on the complex structures is non--trivial, extended supersymmetry is realized non--locally after duality, using path ordered Wilson lines. Prototype examples considered in detail are, hyper--Kahler metrics with SO(3) isometry and supersymmetric WZW models. For the latter, the natural objects in the non--local realizations of supersymmetry arising after duality are the classical non--Abelian parafermions. The canonical equivalence of WZW models and their non--Abelian duals with respect to a vector subgroup is also established.

Abstract:
We construct a new class of two-dimensional field theories with target spaces that are finite multiparameter deformations of the usual coset G/H-spaces. They arise naturally, when certain models, related by Poisson-Lie T-duality, develop a local gauge invariance at specific points of their classical moduli space. We show that canonical equivalences in this context can be formulated in loop space in terms of parafermionic-type algebras with a central extension. We find that the corresponding generating functionals are non-polynomial in the derivatives of the fields with respect to the space-like variable. After constructing models with three- and two-dimensional targets, we study renormalization group flows in this context. In the ultraviolet, in some cases, the target space of the theory reduces to a coset space or there is a fixed point where the theory becomes free.

Abstract:
Starting with exact solutions to string theory on curved spacetimes we obtain deformations that represent gravitational shock waves. These may exist in the presence or absence of sources. Sources are effectively induced by a tachyon field that randomly fluctuates around a zero condensate value. It is shown that at the level of the underlying conformal field theory (CFT) these deformations are marginal and moreover all \a'-corrections are taken into account. Explicit results are given when the original undeformed 4-dimensional backgrounds correspond to tensor products of combinations of 2-dimensional CFT's, for instance SL(2,R)/R \times SU(2)/U(1).

Abstract:
String propagation on a curved background defines an embedding problem of surfaces in differential geometry. Using this, we show that in a wide class of backgrounds the classical dynamics of the physical degrees of freedom of the string involves 2-dim sigma-models corresponding to coset conformal field theories.

Abstract:
We review aspects of Poisson-Lie T-duality which we explicitly formulate as a canonical transformation on the world-sheet. Extensions of previous work on T-duality in relation to supersymmetry are also discussed. (Contribution to the proceedings of the 30th International Symposium Ahrenshoop on the Theory of Elementary Particles, Buckow, Germany, 26-31 August 1996)

Abstract:
Using the conformal invariance of the $SL(2,R)\otimes SO(1,1)^{d-2}/SO(1,1)$ coset models we calculate the conformally exact metric and dilaton, to all orders in the $1/k$ expansion. We consider both vector and axial gauging. We find that these cosets represent two different space--time geometries: ($2d$ black hole)$\otimes \IR^{d-2}$ for the vector gauging and ($3d$ black string)$\otimes \IR^{d-3}$ for the axial one. In particular for $d=3$ and for the axial gauging one obtains the exact metric and dilaton of the charged black string model introduced by Horne and Horowitz. If the value of $k$ is finite we find two curvature singularities which degenerate to one in the semi--classical $k\to \infty$ limit. We also calculate the reflection and transmission coefficients for the scattering of a tachyon wave and using the Bogoliubov transformation we find the Hawking temperature.

Abstract:
Following recent work on the effective quantum action of gauged WZW models, we suggest such an action for {\it chiral} gauged WZW models which in many respects differ from the usual gauged WZW models. Using the effective action we compute the conformally exact expressions for the metric, the antisymmetric tensor, and the dilaton fields in the $\s$-model arising from a general {\it chiral } gauged WZW model. We also obtain the general solution of the geodesic equations in the exact geometry. Finally we consider in some detail a three dimensional model which has certain similarities with the three dimensional black string model. Finally we consider in some detail a three dimensional model which has certain similarities with the three dimensional black string model.

Abstract:
Some years ago Dray and 't Hooft found the necessary and sufficient conditions to introduce a gravitational shock wave in a particular class of vacuum solutions to Einstein's equations. We extend this work to cover cases where non-vanishing matter fields and cosmological constant are present. The sources of gravitational waves are massless particles moving along a null surface such as a horizon in the case of black holes. After we discuss the general case we give many explicit examples. Among them are the $d$-dimensional charged black hole (that includes the 4-dimensional Reissner-Nordstr\"om and the $d$-dimensional Schwarzschild solution as subcases), the 4-dimensional De-Sitter and Anti-De-Sitter spaces (and the Schwarzschild-De-Sitter black hole), the 3-dimensional Anti-De-Sitter black hole, as well as backgrounds with a covariantly constant null Killing vector. We also address the analogous problem for string inspired gravitational solutions and give a few examples.