Hello from Lattice 2012 in Cairns, Queensland, Australia (the tropical "down under"). I suppose this year we will have particularly many readers on this blog, since so many people couldn't make the long trip; I will try not to disappoint them too much.
Having had a couple of days to get over the jetlag and the acclimatization to the tropical climate here in Cairns, as well as to recover from the 32+ hour trip, I was quite ready for the conference to start. The reception last night was pleasant, and the staff are doing a great job keeping everything well-organised.
Today, the first session (after the Welcome by Derek Leinweber) was started by Stefan Schaefer, who spoke about prospects and challenges of dynamical fermion simulations. Over the last few years, the parameters of what would be considered a typical dynamical simulation have been steadfastly approaching to the physical point in the pion mass while increasingly larger and finer lattices are being studied. This progress has been made possible not just by Moore's law and increases in parallelism, but also and even more significantly by algorithmic improvements in the MD integrators used in HMC simulations, the solvers and preconditioners used in solving the Dirac equation (such as local deflation), and the treatment of the fermion determinant (e.g. the Hasenbusch trick or the DD-HMC), all of which are to some extent interrelated (in particular Stefan pointed out that a good frequency splitting in the determinant reduces force fluctuations, thereby aiding Omelyan-type integrators by making the difference between the shadow Hamiltonian and the real one more constant). One major issue confronting dynamical simulations at fine lattice spacings is the slowing down of the topological charge as the continuum limit is approached and the topological sectors emerge, leading to potentially very long autocorrelation times. One possible solution to this problem is to simulate using open boundary conditions in time, as proposed by Martin Lüscher and now implemented in the openQCD program, and first results demonstrating the absence of the problem in this setup were shown. I suppose it remains to be seen how the effects of the open boundary conditions on hadronic correlators can be handled (they are probably quite suppressed in the central region for large enough time extent).
Next was Jo Dudek talking about spectroscopy, with a focus on resonances and more qualitative statements rather then on precision physics with stable states. This is an area in which a number of experiments (including glueX, COMPASS and BES-III) are interested, but in which theory is still ahead of experiment, in particular as far as the search for hybrids is concerned; exotic hybrids in particular would present a "smoking gun" evidence of gluonic excitations in an experiment, but have not yet been seen. The work of the HadSpec collaboration, which Jo mainly presented, relies on the "distillation" approach for building correlation functions, and on the variational method with an operator basis constructed from quark bilinears with some covariant derivatives added in and the resulting operators put into definite continuum irreps and subduced to the corresponding lattice irreps. The results then allow to identify the continuum spin from which a given lattice state (at least predominantly) came on the basis of the generalised eigenvectors going with it. Moreover, it is possible to identify likely hybrids as presumably mainly containing a chromomagnetic excitation in addition to their quark model content, and to make some phenomenological statements about excitation energies and quark model identifications. The advantages of the distillation approach were demonstrated in the example of the η/η' system, where the disconnected parts are much less noisy in this way then with other approaches.
After the coffee break, Daniel Mohler continued the topic of resonances with his talk reviewing methods and results for determining resonance parameters. Besides the now widely-used Lüscher method, he explained the histogram method (which at least I had not yet heard of) and reviewed a study comparing the two. In addition, recent results for a number of resonances including the ρ, the Kπ, Dπ and D*π channels, were reviewed, and some even compared to experiment (which seemed to agree unexpectedly well given the limitations of the lattice results). As Daniel summarised, this is an area that is still in its infancy, but making good progress, even though a firm theoretical basis for treating the inelastic case appears to be lacking.
The next speaker was Taku Izubushi, who spoke about QCD+QED on the lattice. Isospin symmetry is broken not just by the different up and down quark masses, but also by electromagnetic effects, which need to be treated in order to go beyond the isospin limit. Another reason for being interested in QED effects is that the hadronic contributions to the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon are the source of the dominant theoretical uncertainty for this precision observable, in which there is some persistent tension between SM predictions and experiment, and that the next-to-leading hadronic contribution involves the hadronic light-by-light scattering amplitude, which can probably only be computed in a QCD+QED simulation of some sort. By adding quenched non-compact QED fields onto an existing lattice ensemble and reweighting the individual configurations accordingly, it is now possible to simulate QCD+QED, and this has been used to determine the electromagnetic effects on masses and decay constants; the difference of the up and down quark masses has also been determined, along with its effects on the nucleon mass difference.
The last plenary speaker was Tatsu Misumi with a talk about new fermion discretisations. He summarised the recent developments in this field by demonstrating some of the connections between the different recent proposals of new fermion actions, including what he called "flavored mass" (which includes the staggered overlap fermions of Adams), the "central branch" (Wilson fermions without the on-site term) and the "flavored chemical potential" (minimally doubled fermions) formalisms. In particular the Adams case of the "flavored mass" formalism was shown to possess attractive features, such as reducing the numerical cost for overlap fermions and the taste breaking effects for staggered fermions, while exactly preserving hypercubic symmetry (which is broken e.g. for the minimally doubled fermions).
After the lunch break (let it be noted that eating out in Cairns [perhaps generally in Australia? -- I wouldn't know] is rather expensive) there were parallel sessions. After the last of those, I had a slightly heated discussion about the one and only truly correct way to automate lattice perturbation theory (my sincere apologies to anyone offended by the raised voices -- it was all settled peacefully in the end, possibly just in time before the Convention Centre staff would have thrown us out of the building to lock up).