Disorder Operators and Their Descendants

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I review the concept of a disorder operator, introduced originally by Kadanoff in the context of the two-dimensional Ising model. Disorder operators acquire an expectation value in the disordered phase of the classical spin system. This concept has had applications and implications to many areas of physics ranging from quantum spin chains to gauge theories to topological phases of matter. In this paper I describe the role that disorder operators play in our understanding of ordered, disordered and topological phases of matter. The role of disorder operators, and their generalizations, and their connection with dualities in different systems, as well as with majorana fermions and parafermions, is discussed in detail. Their role in recent fermion–boson and boson–boson dualities is briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-461
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Statistical Physics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Critical phenomena
  • Disorder operators
  • Duality transformations
  • Ising gauge theory
  • Ising models
  • Quantum spin chains
  • Topological phases of matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics


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