Differential geometry is a mathematical discipline that uses the techniques of differential calculus, integral calculus, linear algebra and multilinear algebra to study problems in geometry. The theory of plane and space curves and surfaces in the three-dimensional Euclidean space formed the basis for development of differential geometry during the 18th century and the 19th century.
Since the late 19th century, differential geometry has grown into a field concerned more generally with the geometric structures on differentiable manifolds. Differential geometry is closely related to differential topology and the geometric aspects of the theory of differential equations. The differential geometry of surfaces captures many of the key ideas and techniques endemic to this field.
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Differential geometry arose and developed as a result of and in connection to the mathematical analysis of curves and surfaces.Mathematical analysis of curves and surfaces had been developed to answer some of the nagging and unanswered questions that appeared in calculus, like the reasons for relationships between complex shapes and curves, series and analytic functions. These unanswered questions indicated greater, hidden relationships.
When curves, surfaces enclosed by curves, and points on curves were found to be quantitatively, and generally, related by mathematical forms, the formal study of the nature of curves and surfaces became a field of study in its own right, with Monge's paper in 1795, and especially, with Gauss's publication of his article, titled 'Disquisitiones Generales Circa Superficies Curvas', in Commentationes Societatis Regiae Scientiarum Gottingesis Recentiores in 1827.
Initially applied to the Euclidean space, further explorations led to non-Euclidean space, and metric and topological spaces.
Riemannian geometry studies Riemannian manifolds, smooth manifolds with a Riemannian metric. This is a concept of distance expressed by means of a smooth positive definite symmetric bilinear form defined on the tangent space at each point. Riemannian geometry generalizes Euclidean geometry to spaces that are not necessarily flat, although they still resemble the Euclidean space at each point infinitesimally, i.e. in the first order of approximation. Various concepts based on length, such as the arc length of curves, area of plane regions, and volume of solids all possess natural analogues in Riemannian geometry. The notion of a directional derivative of a function from multivariable calculus is extended in Riemannian geometry to the notion of a covariant derivative of a tensor. Many concepts and techniques of analysis and differential equations have been generalized to the setting of Riemannian manifolds.
A distance-preserving diffeomorphism between Riemannian manifolds is called an isometry. This notion can also be defined locally, i.e. for small neighborhoods of points. Any two regular curves are locally isometric. However, the Theorema Egregium of Carl Friedrich Gauss showed that for surfaces, the existence of a local isometry imposes strong compatibility conditions on their metrics: the Gaussian curvatures at the corresponding points must be the same. In higher dimensions, the Riemann curvature tensor is an important pointwise invariant associated with a Riemannian manifold that measures how close it is to being flat. An important class of Riemannian manifolds is the Riemannian symmetric spaces, whose curvature is not necessarily constant. These are the closest analogues to the "ordinary" plane and space considered in Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry.
Pseudo-Riemannian geometry generalizes Riemannian geometry to the case in which the metric tensor need not be positive-definite. A special case of this is a Lorentzian manifold, which is the mathematical basis of Einstein's general relativity theory of gravity.
Finsler geometry has Finsler manifolds as the main object of study. This is a differential manifold with a Finsler metric, that is, a Banach norm defined on each tangent space. Riemannian manifolds are special cases of the more general Finsler manifolds. A Finsler structure on a manifold M is a function F : TM → [0, ∞) such that:
Symplectic geometry is the study of symplectic manifolds. An almost symplectic manifold is a differentiable manifold equipped with a smoothly varying non-degenerate skew-symmetric bilinear form on each tangent space, i.e., a nondegenerate 2-form ω, called the symplectic form. A symplectic manifold is an almost symplectic manifold for which the symplectic form ω is closed: dω = 0.
A diffeomorphism between two symplectic manifolds which preserves the symplectic form is called a symplectomorphism. Non-degenerate skew-symmetric bilinear forms can only exist on even-dimensional vector spaces, so symplectic manifolds necessarily have even dimension. In dimension 2, a symplectic manifold is just a surface endowed with an area form and a symplectomorphism is an area-preserving diffeomorphism. The phase space of a mechanical system is a symplectic manifold and they made an implicit appearance already in the work of Joseph Louis Lagrange on analytical mechanics and later in Carl Gustav Jacobi's and William Rowan Hamilton's formulations of classical mechanics.
By contrast with Riemannian geometry, where the curvature provides a local invariant of Riemannian manifolds, Darboux's theorem states that all symplectic manifolds are locally isomorphic. The only invariants of a symplectic manifold are global in nature and topological aspects play a prominent role in symplectic geometry. The first result in symplectic topology is probably the Poincaré–Birkhoff theorem, conjectured by Henri Poincaré and then proved by G.D. Birkhoff in 1912. It claims that if an area preserving map of an annulus twists each boundary component in opposite directions, then the map has at least two fixed points.
Contact geometry deals with certain manifolds of odd dimension. It is close to symplectic geometry and like the latter, it originated in questions of classical mechanics. A contact structure on a (2n + 1)-dimensional manifold M is given by a smooth hyperplane field H in the tangent bundle that is as far as possible from being associated with the level sets of a differentiable function on M (the technical term is "completely nonintegrable tangent hyperplane distribution"). Near each point p, a hyperplane distribution is determined by a nowhere vanishing 1-form , which is unique up to multiplication by a nowhere vanishing function:
A local 1-form on M is a contact form if the restriction of its exterior derivative to H is a non-degenerate two-form and thus induces a symplectic structure on Hp at each point. If the distribution H can be defined by a global one-form then this form is contact if and only if the top-dimensional form
is a volume form on M, i.e. does not vanish anywhere. A contact analogue of the Darboux theorem holds: all contact structures on an odd-dimensional manifold are locally isomorphic and can be brought to a certain local normal form by a suitable choice of the coordinate system.
Complex differential geometry is the study of complex manifolds. An almost complex manifold is a real manifold , endowed with a tensor of type (1, 1), i.e. a vector bundle endomorphism (called an almost complex structure )
It follows from this definition that an almost complex manifold is even-dimensional.
An almost complex manifold is called complex if , where is a tensor of type (2, 1) related to , called the Nijenhuis tensor (or sometimes the torsion). An almost complex manifold is complex if and only if it admits a holomorphic coordinate atlas. An almost Hermitian structure is given by an almost complex structure J, along with a Riemannian metric g, satisfying the compatibility condition
An almost Hermitian structure defines naturally a differential two-form
The following two conditions are equivalent:
where is the Levi-Civita connection of . In this case, is called a Kähler structure , and a Kähler manifold is a manifold endowed with a Kähler structure. In particular, a Kähler manifold is both a complex and a symplectic manifold. A large class of Kähler manifolds (the class of Hodge manifolds) is given by all the smooth complex projective varieties.
CR geometry is the study of the intrinsic geometry of boundaries of domains in complex manifolds.
Conformal geometry is the study of the set of angle-preserving (conformal) transformations on a space.
Differential topology is the study of global geometric invariants without a metric or symplectic form.
Differential topology starts from the natural operations such as Lie derivative of natural vector bundles and de Rham differential of forms. Beside Lie algebroids, also Courant algebroids start playing a more important role.
A Lie group is a group in the category of smooth manifolds. Beside the algebraic properties this enjoys also differential geometric properties. The most obvious construction is that of a Lie algebra which is the tangent space at the unit endowed with the Lie bracket between left-invariant vector fields. Beside the structure theory there is also the wide field of representation theory.
Gauge theory is the study of connections on vector bundles and principal bundles, and arises out of problems in mathematical physics and physical gauge theories which underpin the standard model of particle physics. Gauge theory is concerned with the study of differential equations for connections on bundles, and the resulting geometric moduli spaces of solutions to these equations as well as the invariants that may be derived from them. These equations often arise as the Euler–Lagrange equations describing the equations of motion of certain physical systems in quantum field theory, and so their study is of considerable interest in physics.
The apparatus of vector bundles, principal bundles, and connections on bundles plays an extraordinarily important role in modern differential geometry. A smooth manifold always carries a natural vector bundle, the tangent bundle. Loosely speaking, this structure by itself is sufficient only for developing analysis on the manifold, while doing geometry requires, in addition, some way to relate the tangent spaces at different points, i.e. a notion of parallel transport. An important example is provided by affine connections. For a surface in R3, tangent planes at different points can be identified using a natural path-wise parallelism induced by the ambient Euclidean space, which has a well-known standard definition of metric and parallelism. In Riemannian geometry, the Levi-Civita connection serves a similar purpose. (The Levi-Civita connection defines path-wise parallelism in terms of a given arbitrary Riemannian metric on a manifold.) More generally, differential geometers consider spaces with a vector bundle and an arbitrary affine connection which is not defined in terms of a metric. In physics, the manifold may be the space-time continuum and the bundles and connections are related to various physical fields.
From the beginning and through the middle of the 19th century, differential geometry was studied from the extrinsic point of view: curves and surfaces were considered as lying in a Euclidean space of higher dimension (for example a surface in an ambient space of three dimensions). The simplest results are those in the differential geometry of curves and differential geometry of surfaces. Starting with the work of Riemann, the intrinsic point of view was developed, in which one cannot speak of moving "outside" the geometric object because it is considered to be given in a free-standing way. The fundamental result here is Gauss's theorema egregium, to the effect that Gaussian curvature is an intrinsic invariant.
The intrinsic point of view is more flexible. For example, it is useful in relativity where space-time cannot naturally be taken as extrinsic (what would be "outside" of the universe?). However, there is a price to pay in technical complexity: the intrinsic definitions of curvature and connections become much less visually intuitive.
These two points of view can be reconciled, i.e. the extrinsic geometry can be considered as a structure additional to the intrinsic one. (See the Nash embedding theorem.) In the formalism of geometric calculus both extrinsic and intrinsic geometry of a manifold can be characterized by a single bivector-valued one-form called the shape operator.
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Below are some examples of how differential geometry is applied to other fields of science and mathematics.
In mathematics, differential topology is the field dealing with differentiable functions on differentiable manifolds. It is closely related to differential geometry and together they make up the geometric theory of differentiable manifolds.
In mathematics, complex geometry is the study of complex manifolds, complex algebraic varieties, and functions of several complex variables. Application of transcendental methods to algebraic geometry falls in this category, together with more geometric aspects of complex analysis.
Riemannian geometry is the branch of differential geometry that studies Riemannian manifolds, smooth manifolds with a Riemannian metric, i.e. with an inner product on the tangent space at each point that varies smoothly from point to point. This gives, in particular, local notions of angle, length of curves, surface area and volume. From those, some other global quantities can be derived by integrating local contributions.
Symplectic geometry is a branch of differential geometry and differential topology that studies symplectic manifolds; that is, differentiable manifolds equipped with a closed, nondegenerate 2-form. Symplectic geometry has its origins in the Hamiltonian formulation of classical mechanics where the phase space of certain classical systems takes on the structure of a symplectic manifold.
In mathematics and especially differential geometry, a Kähler manifold is a manifold with three mutually compatible structures: a complex structure, a Riemannian structure, and a symplectic structure. The concept was first studied by Jan Arnoldus Schouten and David van Dantzig in 1930, and then introduced by Erich Kähler in 1933. The terminology has been fixed by André Weil.
In mathematics, the Chern theorem states that the Euler-Poincaré characteristic of a closed even-dimensional Riemannian manifold is equal to the integral of a certain polynomial of its curvature form.
In mathematics, contact geometry is the study of a geometric structure on smooth manifolds given by a hyperplane distribution in the tangent bundle satisfying a condition called 'complete non-integrability'. Equivalently, such a distribution may be given as the kernel of a differential one-form, and the non-integrability condition translates into a maximal non-degeneracy condition on the form. These conditions are opposite to two equivalent conditions for 'complete integrability' of a hyperplane distribution, i.e. that it be tangent to a codimension one foliation on the manifold, whose equivalence is the content of the Frobenius theorem.
This is a glossary of some terms used in Riemannian geometry and metric geometry — it doesn't cover the terminology of differential topology.
In Differential geometry, an affine connection is a geometric object on a smooth manifold which connects nearby tangent spaces, so it permits tangent vector fields to be differentiated as if they were functions on the manifold with values in a fixed vector space. The notion of an affine connection has its roots in 19th-century geometry and tensor calculus, but was not fully developed until the early 1920s, by Élie Cartan and Hermann Weyl. The terminology is due to Cartan and has its origins in the identification of tangent spaces in Euclidean space Rn by translation: the idea is that a choice of affine connection makes a manifold look infinitesimally like Euclidean space not just smoothly, but as an affine space.
In mathematics, low-dimensional topology is the branch of topology that studies manifolds, or more generally topological spaces, of four or fewer dimensions. Representative topics are the structure theory of 3-manifolds and 4-manifolds, knot theory, and braid groups. This can be regarded as a part of geometric topology. It may also be used to refer to the study of topological spaces of dimension 1, though this is more typically considered part of continuum theory.
In mathematics, a manifold is a topological space that locally resembles Euclidean space near each point. More precisely, an n-dimensional manifold, or n-manifold for short, is a topological space with the property that each point has a neighborhood that is homeomorphic to the Euclidean space of dimension n.
In mathematics, a differentiable manifold is a type of manifold that is locally similar enough to a linear space to allow one to do calculus. Any manifold can be described by a collection of charts, also known as an atlas. One may then apply ideas from calculus while working within the individual charts, since each chart lies within a linear space to which the usual rules of calculus apply. If the charts are suitably compatible, then computations done in one chart are valid in any other differentiable chart.
Geometric analysis is a mathematical discipline where tools from differential equations, especially elliptic partial differential equations are used to establish new results in differential geometry and differential topology. The use of linear elliptic PDEs dates at least as far back as Hodge theory. More recently, it refers largely to the use of nonlinear partial differential equations to study geometric and topological properties of spaces, such as submanifolds of Euclidean space, Riemannian manifolds, and symplectic manifolds. This approach dates back to the work by Tibor Radó and Jesse Douglas on minimal surfaces, John Forbes Nash Jr. on isometric embeddings of Riemannian manifolds into Euclidean space, work by Louis Nirenberg on the Minkowski problem and the Weyl problem, and work by Aleksandr Danilovich Aleksandrov and Aleksei Pogorelov on convex hypersurfaces. In the 1980s fundamental contributions by Karen Uhlenbeck, Clifford Taubes, Shing-Tung Yau, Richard Schoen, and Richard Hamilton launched a particularly exciting and productive era of geometric analysis that continues to this day. A celebrated achievement was the solution to the Poincaré conjecture by Grigori Perelman, completing a program initiated and largely carried out by Richard Hamilton.
In Riemannian geometry, the unit tangent bundle of a Riemannian manifold (M, g), denoted by T1M, UT(M) or simply UTM, is the unit sphere bundle for the tangent bundle T(M). It is a fiber bundle over M whose fiber at each point is the unit sphere in the tangent bundle:
In mathematics, spaces of non-positive curvature occur in many contexts and form a generalization of hyperbolic geometry. In the category of Riemannian manifolds, one can consider the sectional curvature of the manifold and require that this curvature be everywhere less than or equal to zero. The notion of curvature extends to the category of geodesic metric spaces, where one can use comparison triangles to quantify the curvature of a space; in this context, non-positively curved spaces are known as (locally) CAT(0) spaces.
In mathematics, geometry and topology is an umbrella term for the historically distinct disciplines of geometry and topology, as general frameworks allow both disciplines to be manipulated uniformly, most visibly in local to global theorems in Riemannian geometry, and results like the Gauss–Bonnet theorem and Chern–Weil theory.
In mathematics, the differential geometry of surfaces deals with the differential geometry of smooth surfaces with various additional structures, most often, a Riemannian metric. Surfaces have been extensively studied from various perspectives: extrinsically, relating to their embedding in Euclidean space and intrinsically, reflecting their properties determined solely by the distance within the surface as measured along curves on the surface. One of the fundamental concepts investigated is the Gaussian curvature, first studied in depth by Carl Friedrich Gauss, who showed that curvature was an intrinsic property of a surface, independent of its isometric embedding in Euclidean space.
The Geometry Festival is an annual mathematics conference held in the United States.
In mathematics, the Riemannian connection on a surface or Riemannian 2-manifold refers to several intrinsic geometric structures discovered by Tullio Levi-Civita, Élie Cartan and Hermann Weyl in the early part of the twentieth century: parallel transport, covariant derivative and connection form. These concepts were put in their current form with principal bundles only in the 1950s. The classical nineteenth century approach to the differential geometry of surfaces, due in large part to Carl Friedrich Gauss, has been reworked in this modern framework, which provides the natural setting for the classical theory of the moving frame as well as the Riemannian geometry of higher-dimensional Riemannian manifolds. This account is intended as an introduction to the theory of connections.