Emergence of spacetime from the algebra of total modular Hamiltonians

Daniel Kabat, Gilad Lifschytz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the action of the CFT total modular Hamiltonian on the CFT representation of bulk fields with spin. In the vacuum of the CFT the total modular Hamiltonian acts as a bulk Lie derivative, reducing on the RT surface to a boost perpendicular to the RT surface. This enables us to reconstruct bulk fields with spin from the CFT. On fields with gauge redundancies the total modular Hamiltonian acts as a bulk Lie derivative together with a compensating bulk gauge (or diffeomorphism) transformation to restore the original gauge. We consider the Lie algebra generated by the total modular Hamiltonians of all spherical CFT subregions and define weakly-maximal Lie subalgebras as proper subalgebras containing a maximal set of total modular Hamiltonians. In a CFT state with a bulk dual, we show that the bulk spacetime parametrizes the space of these weakly-maximal Lie subalgebras. Each such weakly-maximal Lie subalgebra induces Lorentz transformations at a particular point in the bulk manifold. The bulk metric dual to a pure CFT state is invariant at each point under this transformation. This condition fixes the metric up to a conformal factor that can be computed from knowledge of the equation parametrizing extremal surfaces. This gives a holographic notion of the invariance of a pure CFT state under CFT modular flow.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).


  • AdS-CFT Correspondence
  • Conformal Field Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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