Exponential map (Riemannian geometry)

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The exponential map of the Earth as viewed from the north pole is the polar azimuthal equidistant projection in cartography. Azimuthal Equidistant N90.jpg
The exponential map of the Earth as viewed from the north pole is the polar azimuthal equidistant projection in cartography.

In Riemannian geometry, an exponential map is a map from a subset of a tangent space TpM of a Riemannian manifold (or pseudo-Riemannian manifold) M to M itself. The (pseudo) Riemannian metric determines a canonical affine connection, and the exponential map of the (pseudo) Riemannian manifold is given by the exponential map of this connection.

Riemannian geometry branch of differential geometry

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.

In mathematics, the tangent space of a manifold facilitates the generalization of vectors from affine spaces to general manifolds, since in the latter case one cannot simply subtract two points to obtain a vector that gives the displacement of the one point from the other.

In differential geometry, a (smooth) Riemannian manifold or (smooth) Riemannian space(M, g) is a real, smooth manifold M equipped with an inner product gp on the tangent space TpM at each point p that varies smoothly from point to point in the sense that if X and Y are differentiable vector fields on M, then pgp(X|p, Y|p) is a smooth function. The family gp of inner products is called a Riemannian metric. These terms are named after the German mathematician Bernhard Riemann. The study of Riemannian manifolds constitutes the subject called Riemannian geometry.



Let M be a differentiable manifold and p a point of M. An affine connection on M allows one to define the notion of a straight line through the point p. [1]

Differentiable manifold manifold upon which it is possible to perform calculus

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.

Affine connection Construct allowing differentiation of tangent vector fields of manifolds

In the branch of mathematics called 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.

Let v ∈ TpM be a tangent vector to the manifold at p. Then there is a unique geodesic γv satisfying γv(0) = p with initial tangent vector γv(0) = v. The corresponding exponential map is defined by expp(v) = γv(1). In general, the exponential map is only locally defined, that is, it only takes a small neighborhood of the origin at TpM, to a neighborhood of p in the manifold. This is because it relies on the theorem of existence and uniqueness for ordinary differential equations which is local in nature. An affine connection is called complete if the exponential map is well-defined at every point of the tangent bundle.

In mathematics, a tangent vector is a vector that is tangent to a curve or surface at a given point. Tangent vectors are described in the differential geometry of curves in the context of curves in Rn. More generally, tangent vectors are elements of a tangent space of a differentiable manifold. Tangent vectors can also be described in terms of germs. Formally, a tangent vector at the point is a linear derivation of the algebra defined by the set of germs at .

Geodesic shortest path between two points on a curved surface

In differential geometry, a geodesic is a generalization of the notion of a "straight line" to "curved spaces". The term "geodesic" comes from geodesy, the science of measuring the size and shape of Earth; in the original sense, a geodesic was the shortest route between two points on the Earth's surface, namely, a segment of a great circle. The term has been generalized to include measurements in much more general mathematical spaces; for example, in graph theory, one might consider a geodesic between two vertices/nodes of a graph.

In mathematics – specifically, in differential equations – the Picard–Lindelöf theorem, Picard's existence theorem, Cauchy–Lipschitz theorem, or existence and uniqueness theorem gives a set of conditions under which an initial value problem has a unique solution.


Intuitively speaking, the exponential map takes a given tangent vector to the manifold, runs along the geodesic starting at that point and goes in that direction, for a unit time. Since v corresponds to the velocity vector of the geodesic, the actual (Riemannian) distance traveled will be dependent on that. We can also reparametrize geodesics to be unit speed, so equivalently we can define expp(v) = β(|v|) where β is the unit-speed geodesic (geodesic parameterized by arc length) going in the direction of v. As we vary the tangent vector v we will get, when applying expp, different points on M which are within some distance from the base point p—this is perhaps one of the most concrete ways of demonstrating that the tangent space to a manifold is a kind of "linearization" of the manifold.

The Hopf–Rinow theorem asserts that it is possible to define the exponential map on the whole tangent space if and only if the manifold is complete as a metric space (which justifies the usual term geodesically complete for a manifold having an exponential map with this property). In particular, compact manifolds are geodesically complete. However even if expp is defined on the whole tangent space, it will in general not be a global diffeomorphism. However, its differential at the origin of the tangent space is the identity map and so, by the inverse function theorem we can find a neighborhood of the origin of TpM on which the exponential map is an embedding (i.e., the exponential map is a local diffeomorphism). The radius of the largest ball about the origin in TpM that can be mapped diffeomorphically via expp is called the injectivity radius of M at p. The cut locus of the exponential map is, roughly speaking, the set of all points where the exponential map fails to have a unique minimum.

Hopf–Rinow theorem is a set of statements about the geodesic completeness of Riemannian manifolds. It is named after Heinz Hopf and his student Willi Rinow, who published it in 1931.

In mathematics, a metric space is a set together with a metric on the set. The metric is a function that defines a concept of distance between any two members of the set, which are usually called points. The metric satisfies a few simple properties. Informally:

Compact space Topological notions of all points being "close"

In mathematics, and more specifically in general topology, compactness is a property that generalizes the notion of a subset of Euclidean space being closed and bounded. Examples include a closed interval, a rectangle, or a finite set of points. This notion is defined for more general topological spaces than Euclidean space in various ways.

An important property of the exponential map is the following lemma of Gauss (yet another Gauss's lemma): given any tangent vector v in the domain of definition of expp, and another vector w based at the tip of v (hence w is actually in the double-tangent space Tv(TpM)) and orthogonal to v, remains orthogonal to v when pushed forward via the exponential map. This means, in particular, that the boundary sphere of a small ball about the origin in TpM is orthogonal to the geodesics in M determined by those vectors (i.e., the geodesics are radial). This motivates the definition of geodesic normal coordinates on a Riemannian manifold.

In Riemannian geometry, Gauss's lemma asserts that any sufficiently small sphere centered at a point in a Riemannian manifold is perpendicular to every geodesic through the point. More formally, let M be a Riemannian manifold, equipped with its Levi-Civita connection, and p a point of M. The exponential map is a mapping from the tangent space at p to M:

In mathematics, particularly differential topology, the double tangent bundle or the second tangent bundle refers to the tangent bundle (TTM,πTTM,TM) of the total space TM of the tangent bundle (TM,πTM,M) of a smooth manifold M . A note on notation: in this article, we denote projection maps by their domains, e.g., πTTM : TTMTM. Some authors index these maps by their ranges instead, so for them, that map would be written πTM.

The exponential map is also useful in relating the abstract definition of curvature to the more concrete realization of it originally conceived by Riemann himself—the sectional curvature is intuitively defined as the Gaussian curvature of some surface (i.e., a slicing of the manifold by a 2-dimensional submanifold) through the point p in consideration. Via the exponential map, it now can be precisely defined as the Gaussian curvature of a surface through p determined by the image under expp of a 2-dimensional subspace of TpM.

Curvature of Riemannian manifolds property in differential geometry

In mathematics, specifically differential geometry, the infinitesimal geometry of Riemannian manifolds with dimension greater than 2 is too complicated to be described by a single number at a given point. Riemann introduced an abstract and rigorous way to define curvature for these manifolds, now known as the Riemann curvature tensor. Similar notions have found applications everywhere in differential geometry.

In Riemannian geometry, the sectional curvature is one of the ways to describe the curvature of Riemannian manifolds. The sectional curvature Kp) depends on a two-dimensional plane σp in the tangent space at a point p of the manifold. It is the Gaussian curvature of the surface which has the plane σp as a tangent plane at p, obtained from geodesics which start at p in the directions of σp. The sectional curvature is a smooth real-valued function on the 2-Grassmannian bundle over the manifold.

Gaussian curvature

In differential geometry, the Gaussian curvature or Gauss curvatureΚ of a surface at a point is the product of the principal curvatures, κ1 and κ2, at the given point:

Relationships to exponential maps in Lie theory

In the case of Lie groups with a bi-invariant metric—a pseudo-Riemannian metric invariant under both left and right translation—the exponential maps of the pseudo-Riemannian structure are the same as the exponential maps of the Lie group. In general, Lie groups do not have a bi-invariant metric, though all connected semi-simple (or reductive) Lie groups do. The existence of a bi-invariant Riemannian metric is stronger than that of a pseudo-Riemannian metric, and implies that the Lie algebra is the Lie algebra of a compact Lie group; conversely, any compact (or abelian) Lie group has such a Riemannian metric.

Take the example that gives the "honest" exponential map. Consider the positive real numbers R+, a Lie group under the usual multiplication. Then each tangent space is just R. On each copy of R at the point y, we introduce the modified inner product

(multiplying them as usual real numbers but scaling by y2). (This is what makes the metric left-invariant, for left multiplication by a factor will just pull out of the inner product, twice — canceling the square in the denominator).

Consider the point 1 ∈ R+, and xR an element of the tangent space at 1. The usual straight line emanating from 1, namely y(t) = 1 + xt covers the same path as a geodesic, of course, except we have to reparametrize so as to get a curve with constant speed ("constant speed", remember, is not going to be the ordinary constant speed, because we're using this funny metric). To do this we reparametrize by arc length (the integral of the length of the tangent vector in the norm induced by the modified metric):

and after inverting the function to obtain t as a function of s, we substitute and get

Now using the unit speed definition, we have


giving the expected ex.

The Riemannian distance defined by this is simply


a metric which should be familiar to anyone who has drawn graphs on log paper.

See also


  1. A source for this section is Kobayashi & Nomizu (1975 , §III.6), which uses the term "linear connection" where we use "affine connection" instead.

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