Take the 2-minute tour ×
MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Levi-Civita connection is usually defined as the unique connection which is torsion free and preserves metric.

Question Is there some intuitively transparent constructive way to define it (or corresponding parallel transport) ?

"intuitively transparent" is up to "good will" of the ones answering.


PS

I remember the following construction but it is not intrinsic and it is not clear for me how to derive the formula for Christoffel symbols from it in transparent way. Nevertheless let me mention it.

Assume we have a submanifold in some Riemann manifold. To define the transport along the curve on a submanifold we can do infinitesemal translation in bigger manifold - the resulting vector may not be tangent to submanifold - so we will make a projection on the tangent space of the manifold.

In this way starting from standard metric on R^n we can derive parallel transport and hence Levi-Civita connection on a submanifold. Expressing result in terms of submanifold's metric may be considered as way to answer the question - but it seems to be very indirect.

share|improve this question
2  
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Often it helps to look at any notion through its history. Parallel translation first appears in the 2-dimensional case (Minding, 1837).

The idea was to peel a small neighborhood of a curve in the surface and push it into the plane with minimum distorsion near the curve. You need to prove that under such map the image of the curve on the plane is uniquely defined up to congruence. The parallel fields on the plane can be lifted to the tangent bundle of the surface; they form parallel fields along the curve --- the parallel translation is defined.

Exactly the same idea works in higher dimensions.

This does not help to write formulas, but it is a nice way to get intuition.

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you very much ! May I ask I do not quite understand "to peel ... of curve in the surface" and "push it into the plane". Surface and plane is it the same here ? Можно по-русски ? –  Alexander Chervov Nov 15 '12 at 7:45
1  
Look at the appendix of Arnold's Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics. He does a nice job at giving an intuitive picture. –  alvarezpaiva Nov 15 '12 at 14:35
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.