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On the baryon-color-flavor (BCF) anomaly in vector-like theories

Anber, Mohamed M. and Poppitz, Erich (2019) 'On the baryon-color-flavor (BCF) anomaly in vector-like theories.', Journal of high energy physics., 2019 (11). 063.


We consider the most general fractional background fluxes in the color, flavor, and baryon number directions, compatible with the faithful action of the global symmetry of a given theory. We call the obstruction to gauging symmetries revealed by such backgrounds the baryon-color-flavor (BCF) ’t Hooft anomaly. We apply the BCF anomaly to vector- like theories, with fermions in higher-dimensional representations of arbitrary N-ality, and derive non-trivial constraints on their IR dynamics. In particular, this class of theories enjoys an independent discrete chiral symmetry and one may ask about the fate of this symmetry in the background of BCF fluxes. We show that, under certain conditions, an anomaly between the chiral symmetry and the BCF background rules out massless composite fermions as the sole player in the IR: either the composites do not form or additional contributions to the matching of the BCF anomaly are required. We can also give a flavor-symmetric mass to the fermions, smaller than or of order the strong scale of the theory, and examine the θ-angle periodicity of the theory in the BCF background. Interestingly, we find that the conditions that rule out the composites are the exact same conditions that lead to an anomaly of the θ periodicity: the massive theory will experience a phase transition as we vary θ from 0 to 2π.

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Publisher statement:Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date accepted:28 October 2019
Date deposited:04 October 2021
Date of first online publication:11 November 2019
Date first made open access:04 October 2021

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