An operator product expansion for polygonal null Wilson loops

Luis F. Alday*, Davide Gaiotto, Juan Maldacena, Amit Sever, Pedro Vieira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


We consider polygonal Wilson loops with null edges in conformal gauge theories. We derive an OPE-like expansion when several successive lines of the polygon are becoming aligned. The limit corresponds to a collinear, or multicollinear, limit and we explain the systematics of all the subleading corrections, going beyond the leading terms that were previously considered. These subleading corrections are governed by excitations of high spin operators, or excitations of a flux tube that goes between two Wilson lines. The discussion is valid for any conformal gauge theory, for any coupling and in any dimension. For N = 4 super YangMills we check this expansion at strong coupling and at two loops at weak coupling. We also make predictions for the remainder function at higher loops. In the process, we also derived a new version for the TBA integral equations that determine the strong coupling answer and present the area as the associated Yang-Yang functional.

Original languageEnglish
Article number88
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • AdS-CFT correspondence
  • Duality in gauge field theories
  • Integrable field theories


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