Measures of the complexity of a metric - MathOverflow most recent 30 from http://mathoverflow.net 2013-05-21T12:20:18Z http://mathoverflow.net/feeds/question/32527 http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/rdf http://mathoverflow.net/questions/32527/measures-of-the-complexity-of-a-metric Measures of the complexity of a metric Joseph O'Rourke 2010-07-19T19:40:42Z 2010-07-22T09:07:36Z <p>I am seeking a measure of the "complexity" of a surface $S$, a quantity that reflects how widely the metric varies from spot to spot. I am primarily interested in surfaces topologically equivalent to a sphere in $\mathbb{R}^3$, so measures that rely on the genus are not useful. Ideally the measure would achieve its minimum for a (round) sphere, would be larger but still small for closed convex surfaces, and large for surfaces with steep mountains and plummeting valleys. Ultimately I need to discretize the measure, but I would like to understand what are the alternatives for smooth metrics. I can concoct reasonable ad hoc measures, but I'd prefer to start from a more principled foundation.</p> <p>From its name, the <em>entropy of a Riemannian manifold</em> sounds like it might be appropriate, but I have only a tenuous grasp of this concept, so it is unclear to me if this aligns with my goals. I've also looked at the <em>systolic ratio</em> and several other geodesic-based concepts, but none seem to capture what I want. I'd appreciate pointers to concepts in this general intellectual neighborhood. Thanks!</p> <p><b>Addendum</b>. Thanks for the useful suggestions: normalized surface area, Bregman divergence, Gromov-Hausdorff metric, Willmore energy. My question was too vague to permit a definitive answer, but I'll accept Will Jagy's suggestions on the Willmore energy, which taught me much.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/32527/measures-of-the-complexity-of-a-metric/32529#32529 Answer by Will Jagy for Measures of the complexity of a metric Will Jagy 2010-07-19T20:03:22Z 2010-07-20T02:35:57Z <p>I think you would be pretty happy with the Willmore functional for, well, compact orientable $C^\infty$ surfaces in $\mathbb R^3.$ It is just the integral of the square of the <em>mean</em> curvature or $$\frac{1}{2 \pi} \int_{M^2} \; \; H^2 \; dS$$ This quantity is at least 2, and is only equal to 2 for a round sphere. The Willmore Conjecture is that the minimum for an imbedded torus is achieved on the torus (sometimes called the Clifford torus, by the Bryant correspondence) created by revolving a circle of radius 1 with its center at distance $\sqrt 2$ from the axis of revolution. Here the functional has value $\pi.$ Leon Simon proved that the minimum (a priori the infimum) is achieved. Rob Kusner found some rather earlier references (before Willmore) to this problem.  See, for example, "Total Curvature in Riemannian Geometry" by Thomas J. Willmore.  I do not expect there would be much trouble making a discrete version of this.  NOTE: sometimes Willmore writes with the $2 \pi$ divisor, sometimes not.  I found a nice wiki page and some pdf's with references and other information, one a schedule for an October 2010 seminar at Oberwolfach. Anyway, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willmore_energy" rel="nofollow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willmore_energy</a> and <a href="http://www.mfo.de/programme/schedule/2010/43b/programme1043b.pdf" rel="nofollow">http://www.mfo.de/programme/schedule/2010/43b/programme1043b.pdf</a> and<br> <a href="http://www.warwick.ac.uk/~maseq/wmsri.pdf" rel="nofollow">http://www.warwick.ac.uk/~maseq/wmsri.pdf</a> and <a href="http://www.math.ethz.ch/~riviere/papers/riviere-tartar.pdf" rel="nofollow">http://www.math.ethz.ch/~riviere/papers/riviere-tartar.pdf</a><br>  I was not aware of this, it seems the discrete version of this has been worked out, a fair amount published, including treatment in a book, "Discrete differential geometry" by Alexander I. Bobenko, which can be viewed with google books. I ran google with "discrete willmore functional."</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/32527/measures-of-the-complexity-of-a-metric/32531#32531 Answer by Robin Saunders for Measures of the complexity of a metric Robin Saunders 2010-07-19T20:22:43Z 2010-07-19T20:22:43Z <p>Since your metrics embed into R<sup>3</sup>, you could use the surface area (taken after normalizing the volume) for sufficiently well-behaved metrics. This has the advantage of being easy to calculate in many cases.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/32527/measures-of-the-complexity-of-a-metric/32580#32580 Answer by Suresh Venkat for Measures of the complexity of a metric Suresh Venkat 2010-07-20T02:45:32Z 2010-07-20T02:45:32Z <p>Another thought is to use the Gromov-Hausdorff metric between metric spaces, where one of the spaces could be the intrinsic metric on the sphere. </p> <p><a href="http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gromov" rel="nofollow">http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gromov</a>â€“Hausdorff_convergence</p> <p>Also see this paper by Memoli: <a href="http://math.stanford.edu/~memoli/ShapeComp/sc-simple.html" rel="nofollow">http://math.stanford.edu/~memoli/ShapeComp/sc-simple.html</a></p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/32527/measures-of-the-complexity-of-a-metric/32922#32922 Answer by Sebastian for Measures of the complexity of a metric Sebastian 2010-07-22T09:07:36Z 2010-07-22T09:07:36Z <p>I don't think that the Willmore energy is a good measure for the varying of the metric. First of all it is an extrinsic measure, so it measures how the surface lies in the space (In that situation it is, of course, a very good measure). Moreover, the Willmore functional is conformally invariant, so you can apply conformal trnasformations on R3 (better S3) which will change the surface metric in a dramatically way (in general), but it does not change the Willmore functional. </p> <p>Instead, I would say the best mertic is the one of constant curvature. Of course, there is a energy functional on metrics which has as minimizers the metrics of constant curvature. Take that one.</p>