Riemannian geometry

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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.


Riemannian geometry originated with the vision of Bernhard Riemann expressed in his inaugural lecture "Ueber die Hypothesen, welche der Geometrie zu Grunde liegen" [1] ("On the Hypotheses on which Geometry is Based"). It is a very broad and abstract generalization of the differential geometry of surfaces in R3. Development of Riemannian geometry resulted in synthesis of diverse results concerning the geometry of surfaces and the behavior of geodesics on them, with techniques that can be applied to the study of differentiable manifolds of higher dimensions. It enabled the formulation of Einstein's general theory of relativity, made profound impact on group theory and representation theory, as well as analysis, and spurred the development of algebraic and differential topology.


Bernhard Riemann Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann.jpeg
Bernhard Riemann

Riemannian geometry was first put forward in generality by Bernhard Riemann in the 19th century. It deals with a broad range of geometries whose metric properties vary from point to point, including the standard types of non-Euclidean geometry.

Every smooth manifold admits a Riemannian metric, which often helps to solve problems of differential topology. It also serves as an entry level for the more complicated structure of pseudo-Riemannian manifolds, which (in four dimensions) are the main objects of the theory of general relativity. Other generalizations of Riemannian geometry include Finsler geometry.

There exists a close analogy of differential geometry with the mathematical structure of defects in regular crystals. Dislocations and disclinations produce torsions and curvature. [2] [3]

The following articles provide some useful introductory material:

Classical theorems

What follows is an incomplete list of the most classical theorems in Riemannian geometry. The choice is made depending on its importance and elegance of formulation. Most of the results can be found in the classic monograph by Jeff Cheeger and D. Ebin (see below).

The formulations given are far from being very exact or the most general. This list is oriented to those who already know the basic definitions and want to know what these definitions are about.

General theorems

  1. Gauss–Bonnet theorem The integral of the Gauss curvature on a compact 2-dimensional Riemannian manifold is equal to 2πχ(M) where χ(M) denotes the Euler characteristic of M. This theorem has a generalization to any compact even-dimensional Riemannian manifold, see generalized Gauss-Bonnet theorem.
  2. Nash embedding theorems . They state that every Riemannian manifold can be isometrically embedded in a Euclidean space Rn.

Geometry in large

In all of the following theorems we assume some local behavior of the space (usually formulated using curvature assumption) to derive some information about the global structure of the space, including either some information on the topological type of the manifold or on the behavior of points at "sufficiently large" distances.

Pinched sectional curvature

  1. Sphere theorem. If M is a simply connected compact n-dimensional Riemannian manifold with sectional curvature strictly pinched between 1/4 and 1 then M is diffeomorphic to a sphere.
  2. Cheeger's finiteness theorem. Given constants C, D and V, there are only finitely many (up to diffeomorphism) compact n-dimensional Riemannian manifolds with sectional curvature |K| ≤ C, diameter ≤ D and volume ≥ V.
  3. Gromov's almost flat manifolds. There is an εn > 0 such that if an n-dimensional Riemannian manifold has a metric with sectional curvature |K| ≤ εn and diameter ≤ 1 then its finite cover is diffeomorphic to a nil manifold.

Sectional curvature bounded below

  1. Cheeger–Gromoll's soul theorem. If M is a non-compact complete non-negatively curved n-dimensional Riemannian manifold, then M contains a compact, totally geodesic submanifold S such that M is diffeomorphic to the normal bundle of S (S is called the soul of M.) In particular, if M has strictly positive curvature everywhere, then it is diffeomorphic to Rn. G. Perelman in 1994 gave an astonishingly elegant/short proof of the Soul Conjecture: M is diffeomorphic to Rn if it has positive curvature at only one point.
  2. Gromov's Betti number theorem. There is a constant C = C(n) such that if M is a compact connected n-dimensional Riemannian manifold with positive sectional curvature then the sum of its Betti numbers is at most C.
  3. Grove–Petersen's finiteness theorem. Given constants C, D and V, there are only finitely many homotopy types of compact n-dimensional Riemannian manifolds with sectional curvature KC, diameter ≤ D and volume ≥ V.

Sectional curvature bounded above

  1. The Cartan–Hadamard theorem states that a complete simply connected Riemannian manifold M with nonpositive sectional curvature is diffeomorphic to the Euclidean space Rn with n = dim M via the exponential map at any point. It implies that any two points of a simply connected complete Riemannian manifold with nonpositive sectional curvature are joined by a unique geodesic.
  2. The geodesic flow of any compact Riemannian manifold with negative sectional curvature is ergodic.
  3. If M is a complete Riemannian manifold with sectional curvature bounded above by a strictly negative constant k then it is a CAT(k) space. Consequently, its fundamental group Γ = π1(M) is Gromov hyperbolic. This has many implications for the structure of the fundamental group:

Ricci curvature bounded below

  1. Myers theorem. If a compact Riemannian manifold has positive Ricci curvature then its fundamental group is finite.
  2. Bochner's formula. If a compact Riemannian n-manifold has non-negative Ricci curvature, then its first Betti number is at most n, with equality if and only if the Riemannian manifold is a flat torus.
  3. Splitting theorem. If a complete n-dimensional Riemannian manifold has nonnegative Ricci curvature and a straight line (i.e. a geodesic that minimizes distance on each interval) then it is isometric to a direct product of the real line and a complete (n-1)-dimensional Riemannian manifold that has nonnegative Ricci curvature.
  4. Bishop–Gromov inequality. The volume of a metric ball of radius r in a complete n-dimensional Riemannian manifold with positive Ricci curvature has volume at most that of the volume of a ball of the same radius r in Euclidean space.
  5. Gromov's compactness theorem. The set of all Riemannian manifolds with positive Ricci curvature and diameter at most D is pre-compact in the Gromov-Hausdorff metric.

Negative Ricci curvature

  1. The isometry group of a compact Riemannian manifold with negative Ricci curvature is discrete.
  2. Any smooth manifold of dimension n ≥ 3 admits a Riemannian metric with negative Ricci curvature. [4] (This is not true for surfaces.)

Positive scalar curvature

  1. The n-dimensional torus does not admit a metric with positive scalar curvature.
  2. If the injectivity radius of a compact n-dimensional Riemannian manifold is ≥ π then the average scalar curvature is at most n(n-1).

See also


  1. http://www.maths.tcd.ie/pub/HistMath/People/Riemann/Geom/
  2. Kleinert, Hagen (1989). "Gauge Fields in Condensed Matter Vol II": 743–1440.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. Kleinert, Hagen (2008). "Multivalued Fields in Condensed Matter, Electromagnetism, and Gravitation" (PDF): 1–496.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. Joachim Lohkamp has shown (Annals of Mathematics, 1994) that any manifold of dimension greater than two admits a metric of negative Ricci curvature.

Related Research Articles

In differential geometry, the Ricci curvature tensor, named after Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro, is a geometric object which is determined by a choice of Riemannian or pseudo-Riemannian metric on a manifold. It can be considered, broadly, as a measure of the degree to which the geometry of a given metric tensor differs locally from that of ordinary Euclidean space or pseudo-Euclidean space.

In Riemannian geometry, the sectional curvature is one of the ways to describe the curvature of Riemannian manifolds with dimension greater than 2. The sectional curvature Kp) depends on a two-dimensional linear subspace σp of the tangent space at a point p of the manifold. It can be defined geometrically as 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 real-valued function on the 2-Grassmannian bundle over the manifold.

In Riemannian geometry, the scalar curvature is the simplest curvature invariant of a Riemannian manifold. To each point on a Riemannian manifold, it assigns a single real number determined by the intrinsic geometry of the manifold near that point. Specifically, the scalar curvature represents the amount by which the volume of a small geodesic ball in a Riemannian manifold deviates from that of the standard ball in Euclidean space. In two dimensions, the scalar curvature is twice the Gaussian curvature, and completely characterizes the curvature of a surface. In more than two dimensions, however, the curvature of Riemannian manifolds involves more than one functionally independent quantity.

Ricci flow

In the mathematical field of differential geometry, the Ricci flow, sometimes also referred to as Hamilton's Ricci flow, is a certain partial differential equation for a Riemannian metric. It is often said to be analogous to the diffusion of heat and the heat equation, due to formal similarities in the mathematical structure of the equation; however, it exhibits many phenomena not present in the study of the heat equation. Many results for Ricci flow have also been shown for the mean curvature flow of hypersurfaces.

Hyperbolic space Non-Euclidean geometry

In mathematics, a hyperbolic space is a homogeneous space that has a constant negative curvature, where in this case the curvature is the sectional curvature. It is hyperbolic geometry in more than 2 dimensions, and is distinguished from Euclidean spaces with zero curvature that define the Euclidean geometry, and elliptic geometry that have a constant positive curvature.

In mathematics, Gromov–Hausdorff convergence, named after Mikhail Gromov and Felix Hausdorff, is a notion for convergence of metric spaces which is a generalization of Hausdorff convergence.

This is a glossary of some terms used in Riemannian geometry and metric geometry — it doesn't cover the terminology of differential topology.

Low-dimensional topology

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.

Richard S. Hamilton American mathematician

Richard Streit Hamilton is Davies Professor of Mathematics at Columbia University. He is known for contributions to geometric analysis and partial differential equations. He made foundational contributions to the theory of the Ricci flow and its use in the resolution of the Poincaré conjecture and geometrization conjecture in the field of geometric topology.

Mikhael Gromov (mathematician) Russian-French mathematician

Mikhael Leonidovich Gromov is a Russian-French mathematician known for his work in geometry, analysis and group theory. He is a permanent member of IHÉS in France and a Professor of Mathematics at New York University.

The splitting theorem is a classical theorem in Riemannian geometry. It states that if a complete Riemannian manifold M with Ricci curvature

Myers's theorem, also known as the Bonnet–Myers theorem, is a celebrated, fundamental theorem in the mathematical field of Riemannian geometry. It was discovered by Sumner Byron Myers in 1941. It asserts the following:

In mathematics, the soul theorem is a theorem of Riemannian geometry that largely reduces the study of complete manifolds of non-negative sectional curvature to that of the compact case. Cheeger and Gromoll proved the theorem in 1972 by generalizing a 1969 result of Gromoll and Wolfgang Meyer. The related soul conjecture was formulated by Gromoll and Cheeger in 1972 and proved by Grigori Perelman in 1994 with an astonishingly concise proof.

In the mathematical field of differential geometry, a smooth map from one Riemannian manifold to another Riemannian manifold is called harmonic if its coordinate representatives satisfy a certain nonlinear partial differential equation. This partial differential equation for a mapping also arises as the Euler-Lagrange equation of a functional generalizing the Dirichlet energy. As such, the theory of harmonic maps encompasses both the theory of unit-speed geodesics in Riemannian geometry, and the theory of harmonic functions on open subsets of Euclidean space and on Riemannian manifolds.

In differential geometry, a subfield of mathematics, the Margulis lemma is a result about discrete subgroups of isometries of a non-positively curved Riemannian manifolds. Roughly, it states that within a fixed radius, usually called the Margulis constant, the structure of the orbits of such a group cannot be too complicated. More precisely, within this radius around a point all points in its orbit are in fact in the orbit of a nilpotent subgroup.

In mathematics, the Cartan–Hadamard theorem is a statement in Riemannian geometry concerning the structure of complete Riemannian manifolds of non-positive sectional curvature. The theorem states that the universal cover of such a manifold is diffeomorphic to a Euclidean space via the exponential map at any point. It was first proved by Hans Carl Friedrich von Mangoldt for surfaces in 1881, and independently by Jacques Hadamard in 1898. Élie Cartan generalized the theorem to Riemannian manifolds in 1928. The theorem was further generalized to a wide class of metric spaces by Mikhail Gromov in 1987; detailed proofs were published by Ballmann (1990) for metric spaces of non-positive curvature and by Alexander & Bishop (1990) for general locally convex metric spaces.

In mathematics, a Hadamard manifold, named after Jacques Hadamard — more often called a Cartan–Hadamard manifold, after Élie Cartan — is a Riemannian manifold (Mg) that is complete and simply connected and has everywhere non-positive sectional curvature. By Cartan–Hadamard theorem all Cartan–Hadamard manifold are diffeomorphic to the Euclidean space . Furthermore it follows from the Hopf–Rinow theorem that every pairs of points in a Cartan–Hadamard manifold may be connected by a unique geodesic segment. Thus Cartan–Hadamard manifolds are some of the closest relatives of .

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.

The Geometry Festival is an annual mathematics conference held in the United States.