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AdS/CFT seems like a really hot topic and I'd like to start reading about. I am looking for the best introduction at my level, i.e. I have a background in QFT, CFT and general relativity at the level of a master student in theoretical physics. What would you recommend me to start tackling the subject? I have been looking for resources and so far I have noticed:

-this synthetic introductory lectures by Horatiu Nastase:

-the videos of lectures done by P. Vieira at Perimeter for Perimeter Scholar International students:

-the subject starts entering the most recent textbooks on string theory. We have the Schwartz and Becker ( ) and also the Kiritsis ( )

I probably missed a lot of resources, as the literature on the subject is already quite huge. I would really appreciate some advice on that, as I already had the frustration of losing my time on not-so-good books when started to learn something new, so if I could (to the best) avoid that this time...

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Before answering, please see our policy on resource recommendation questions. Please write substantial answers that detail the style, content, and prerequisites of the book, paper or other resource. Explain the nature of the resource so that readers can decide which one is best suited for them rather than relying on the opinions of others. Answers containing only a reference to a book or paper will be removed!

I would also like to add: String Theory Demystified by David McMahon, Chapter 15 link. I liked it as a good starting point to get a good overview without loosing to much time. – ungerade Sep 13 '12 at 11:22
see also the answers at – Arnold Neumaier Nov 1 '15 at 16:33

As of 2015, there is a brand new book that's dedicated solely to gauge/gravity duality. The book is fittingly called Gauge/Gravity Duality, and it was written by Erdmenger & Ammon, based on a course that Erdmenger has been teaching over the past years at LMU Munich (although the book contains much more than be covered in a single course). Lecture notes for (an older iteration of) the course can be found here.

After about 175 pages of introduction to the necessary prerequisites, the book devotes ~200 pages to AdS/CFT, after which further applications of gauge/gravity duality are treated in the final 150 or so pages.

On the site for the course Erdmenger teaches at LMU (link may expire), Erdmenger suggests the following papers to her students as supplementary reading:

  • O. Aharony, S. Gubser, J. Maldacena, H. Ooguri and Y. Oz, Large N field theories, string theory and gravity, Phys. Rept. 323 (2000) 183, [arXiv:hep-th/9905111].

  • E. D'Hoker and D. Freedman, Supersymmetric gauge theories and the AdS/CFT correspondence, arXiv:hep-th/0201253.

  • J. Petersen, Introduction to the Maldacena conjecture on AdS/CFT, Int. J. Mod. Phys. A 14 (1999) 3597, [arXiv:hep-th/9902131].

  • J. Erdmenger, Introduction to Gauge/Gravity Duality, Lect.Notes Phys. 851 (2012) 99-145. D. Son and A. Starinets, Viscosity, Black Holes, and Quantum Field Theory, Ann. Rev. Nucl. Part. Sci. 57 (2007) 95, [arXiv:0704.0240 [hep-th]].

  • J. Erdmenger, N. Evans, I. Kirsch and E. Threlfall, Mesons in Gauge/Gravity Duals - A Review, Eur. Phys. J. A 35 (2008) 81 [arXiv:0711.4467 [hep-th]].

  • J. McGreevy, Holographic duality with a view toward many-body physics, arXiv:0909.0518.

Other suggestions from previous (now-deleted) answers:

Lecture notes from Raman Sundrum: "Fixed Points to the Fifth Dimension"

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