Superstring Theory is the main contender for a unified theory of all the fundamental physical forces and elementary particles. The subject is of great intrinsic intellectual interest, has ramifications across wide areas of theoretical physics and mathematics, and offers a framework in which to analyse future accelerator and non-accelerator experiments (such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN).
The field has a long history of development, which has accelerated considerably in the last five years. New concepts such as dualities and D-branes have revolutionised our understanding of the non-perturbative structure of the theory, have opened new avenues for the study of gauge theories and quantum gravity, and are being applied to particle physics and cosmology. The project of a school in les Houches is motivated by the great diversity of required expertise, which cannot be covered with the more usual two-week school format. There has been no les Houches school covering these rapid developments (the last school on the subject dates from 1994) and we believe the time is ripe to have one. An in depth review of these more recent and older developments, and a cross fertilisation of the various approaches will most likely be crucial for making further progress in the field, towards addressing the long-standing problems of supersymmetry breaking, vacuum stability and the vanishing of the cosmological constant, or of the low-energy approximation to QCD.
The co-ordinator and members of the scientific committee have outstanding records in the field, and the list of confirmed lecturers includes some of the leading present-day figures . We believe the programme will meet a great interest from young researchers in theoretical and particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology and mathematics.