We propose a method for analyzing two-dimensional symmetry-protected topological (SPT) wave functions using a correspondence with conformal field theories (CFTs) and integrable lattice models. This method generalizes the CFT approach for the fractional quantum Hall effect wherein the wave-function amplitude is written as a many-operator correlator in the CFT. Adopting a bottom-up approach, we start from various known microscopic wave functions of SPTs with discrete symmetries and show how the CFT description emerges at large scale, thereby revealing a deep connection between group cocycles and critical, sometimes integrable, models. We show that the CFT describing the bulk wave function is often also the one describing the entanglement spectrum, but not always. Using a plasma analogy, we also prove the existence of hidden quasi-long-range order for a large class of SPTs. Finally, we show how response to symmetry fluxes is easily described in terms of the CFT.
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© 2016 American Physical Society.