Equivariant Cohomotopy implies orientifold tadpole cancellation

Hisham Sati, Urs Schreiber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There are fundamental open problems in the precise global nature of RR-field tadpole cancellation conditions in string theory. Moreover, the non-perturbative lift as M5/MO5-anomaly cancellation in M-theory had been based on indirect plausibility arguments, lacking a microscopic underpinning in M-brane charge quantization. We provide a framework for answering these questions, crucial not only for mathematical consistency but also for phenomenological accuracy of string theory, by formulating the M-theory C-field on flat M-orientifolds in the generalized cohomology theory called Equivariant Cohomotopy. This builds on our previous results for smooth but curved spacetimes, showing in that setting that charge quantization in twisted Cohomotopy rigorously implies a list of expected anomaly cancellation conditions. Here we further expand this list by proving that brane charge quantization in unstable equivariant Cohomotopy implies the anomaly cancellation conditions for M-branes and D-branes on flat orbi-orientifolds. For this we (a) use an unstable refinement of the equivariant Hopf-tom Dieck theorem to derive local/twisted tadpole cancellation, and in addition (b) the lift to super-differential cohomology to establish global/untwisted tadpole cancellation. Throughout, we use (c) the unstable Pontrjagin–Thom theorem to identify the brane/O-plane configurations encoded in equivariant Cohomotopy and (d) the Boardman homomorphism to equivariant K-theory to identify Chan–Paton representations of D-brane charge. We find that unstable equivariant Cohomotopy, but not its image in equivariant K-theory, distinguishes D-brane charge from the finite set of types of O-plane charges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103775
JournalJournal of Geometry and Physics
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Equivariant homotopy theory
  • M-theory
  • Orbifolds
  • Orientifolds
  • String theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematical Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Geometry and Topology


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