On gauging symmetry of modular categories


Topological order of a topological phase of matter in two spacial dimensions is encoded by a unitary modular (tensor) category (UMC). A group symmetry of the topological phase induces a group symmetry of its corresponding UMC. Gauging is a well-known theoretical tool to promote a global symmetry to a local gauge symmetry. We give a mathematical formulation of gauging in terms of higher category formalism. Roughly, given a UMC with a symmetry group G, gauging is a 2-step process first extend the UMC to a G-crossed braided fusion category and then take the equivariantization of the resulting category. Gauging can tell whether or not two enriched topological phases of matter are different, and also provides a way to construct new UMCs out of old ones. We derive a formula for the $H^4$-obstruction, prove some properties of gauging, and carry out gauging for two concrete examples.

Comm. Math. Phys. 348 (2016), no. 3, 1043–1064