Conformal field theories on random surfaces and the non-critical string
Recently, it has become increasingly clear that boundaries play a significant role in the understanding of the non-perturbative phase of the dynamics of strings. In this thesis we propose to study the effects of boundaries in non-critical string theory. We thus analyse boundary conformal field theories on random surfaces using the conformal gauge approach of David, Distler and Kawai. The crucial point is the choice of boundary conditions on the Liouville field. We discuss the Weyl anomaly cancellation for Polyakov's non-critical open bosonic string with Neumann, Dirichlet and free boundary conditions. Dirichlet boundary conditions on the Liouville field imply that the metric is discontinuous as the boundary is approached. We consider the semi-classical limit and argue how it singles out the free boundary conditions for the Liouville held. We define the open string susceptibility, the anomalous gravitational scaling dimensions and a new Yang-Mills Feynman mass critical exponent. Finally, we consider an application to the theory of non-critical dual membranes. We show that the strength of the leading stringy non-perturbative effects is of the order e(^-o(1/βst)), a result that mimics those found in critical string theory and in matrix models. We show how this restricts the space of consistent theories. We also identify non-critical one dimensional D-instantons as dynamical objects which exchange closed string states and calculate the order of their size. The extension to the minimal c ≤ 1 boundary conformal models is also briefly discussed.