Complex, contact, Riemannian, pseudo-Riemannian and Finsler geometry, relativity, gauge theory, global analysis.

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41
votes
5answers
4k views

Is there a “geometric” intuition underlying the notion of normal varieties?

I first got concious of the notion of normal varieties around 3 years ago and despite the fact that by now I can manipulate with it a bit, this notion still puzzles me a lot. One thing that strikes me ...
41
votes
3answers
5k views

$C^1$ isometric embedding of flat torus into $\mathbb{R}^3$

I read (in a paper by Emil Saucan) that the flat torus may be isometrically embedded in $\mathbb{R}^3$ with a $C^1$ map by the Kuiper extension of the Nash Embedding Theorem, a claim repeated in this ...
9
votes
3answers
941 views

Limit cycles as closed geodesics(in negatively curved space)

The classical Van der Pol equation is the following vector field on $\mathbb{R}^{2}$: \begin{equation}\cases{\dot{x}=y-(x^{3}-x)\\ \dot{y}=-x}\end{equation} This equation defines a foliation on $\...
26
votes
10answers
3k views

Determining a surface in $\mathbb{R}^3$ by its Gaussian curvature

A curve in the plane is determined, up to orientation-preserving Euclidean motions, by its curvature function, $\kappa(s)$. Here is one of my favorite examples, from Alfred Gray's book, Modern ...
12
votes
1answer
630 views

When is a given matrix of two forms a curvature form?

Let's assume we are working over $\mathbb{R}^n$ (but feel free to change to domain to answer the question). I wish to know if the equation $F = dA + A \wedge A$ can be solved for a matrix of 1-forms $...
103
votes
17answers
14k views

What is torsion in differential geometry intuitively?

Hi, given a connection on the tangent space of a manifold, one can define its torsion: $$T(X,Y):=\triangledown_X Y - \triangledown_Y X - [X,Y]$$ What is the geometric picture behind this definition&...
80
votes
8answers
8k views

Is there an underlying explanation for the magical powers of the Schwarzian derivative?

Given a function $f(z)$ on the complex plane, define the Schwarzian derivative $S(f)$ to be the function $S(f) = \frac{f'''}{f'} - \frac{3}{2} (\frac{f''}{f'})^2$ Here is a somewhat more conceptual ...
38
votes
3answers
4k views

Can every manifold be given an analytic structure?

Let $M$ be a (real) manifold. Recall that an analytic structure on $M$ is an atlas such that all transition maps are real-analytic (and maximal with respect to this property). (There's also a sheafy ...
47
votes
7answers
5k views

Riemannian surfaces with an explicit distance function?

I'm looking for explicit examples of Riemannian surfaces (two-dimensional Riemannian manifolds $(M,g)$) for which the distance function d(x,y) can be given explicitly in terms of local coordinates of ...
24
votes
2answers
1k views

What are the “correct” conventions for defining Clifford algebras?

I have three related questions about conventions for defining Clifford algebras. 1) Let $(V, q)$ be a quadratic vector space. Should the Clifford algebra $\text{Cliff}(V, q)$ have defining ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

How transitive are the actions of symplectomorphism groups ?

This question is motivated by the classical fact from differential geometry : Let $M$ be a smooth manifold of dimension at least $2$. Then for any $n$ the diffeomorphism group $\textrm{Diff}(M)$ ...
17
votes
2answers
847 views

Uniqueness of compactification of an end of a manifold

Let $M$ be an $n$-dimensional manifold (smooth or topological). I call $\bar{M}$ a compactification of $M$ if it is an $n$-dimensional compact manifold with boundary $\partial \bar{M}$, an $(n-1)$-...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

The conformal group of $S^n$.

Is there any explicit computation of Conf($S^n$, $g_{std}$), the group of conformal diffeomorphisms of the standard $n$-sphere?
6
votes
2answers
829 views

Cotangent bundle lift theorem

Let $M$ be a smooth manifold and $T^\ast M$ be its cotangent bundle. Consider the tautological 1-form $\theta$ on $T^\ast M$ ($\theta=\sum y_i dx^i$ in local canonical coordinate systems). A ...
123
votes
16answers
18k views

How do I make the conceptual transition from multivariable calculus to differential forms?

One way to define the algebra of differential forms $\Omega(M)$ on a smooth manifold $M$ (as explained by John Baez's week287) is as the exterior algebra of the dual of the module of derivations on ...
57
votes
6answers
5k views

Is there an analogue of curvature in algebraic geometry?

I am not an expert, but there seems to be an enormous technical difference between algebraic geometry and differential/metric geometry stemming from the fact that there is apparently no such thing as ...
45
votes
2answers
4k views

Cohomology and fundamental classes

Let X be a real orientable compact differentiable manifold. Is the (co)homology of X generated by the fundamental classes of oriented subvarieties? And if not, what is known about the subgroup ...
44
votes
5answers
4k views

Kahler differentials and Ordinary Differentials

What's the relationship between Kahler differentials and ordinary differential forms?
44
votes
7answers
8k views

What is the symbol of a differential operator?

I find Wikipedia's discussion of symbols of differential operators a bit impenetrable, and Google doesn't seem to turn up useful links, so I'm hoping someone can point me to a more pedantic discussion....
26
votes
5answers
4k views

A geometric interpretation of the Levi-Civita connection?

Let $M$ be a Riemannian manifold. There exists a unique torsion-free connection in the (co)tangent bundle of $M$ such that the metric of $M$ is covariantly constant. This connection is called the Levi-...
14
votes
5answers
4k views

Why do I need densities in order to integrate on a non-orientable manifold?

Integration on an orientable differentiable n-manifold is defined using a partition of unity and a global nowhere vanishing n-form called volume form. If the manifold is not orientable, no such form ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

A question on Generalized Gauss-Bonnet Theorem

Hello all, I am trying to learn about basic characteristic classes and Generalized Gauss-Bonnet Theorem, and my main reference at the moment is 'From Calculus to Cohomology' by Madsen&Tornehave. ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

How to see the Phase Space of a Physical System as the Cotangent Bundle

Two things today motivated this question. First, the professor said that in a lecture Thurston mentioned Any manifold can be seen as the configuration space of some physical system. Clearly we ...
9
votes
8answers
3k views

Maxwells equations and differential forms

Hi, is there a textbooks that explains the maxwell equations in differential form? What I understood so far is, that the $E$ and $B$ fields can be assembled to a differential 2 Form $F$, and the ...
20
votes
2answers
1k views

Converse to Stokes' Theorem

Does satisfying Stokes' Theorem imply that a form is linear? Let $M$ be an $n$-manifold. A differential $k$-form $\omega \in \Omega^k M$ assigns to each point $x \in M$ a function $\omega_x : \Lambda^...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

When does the tangent bundle of a manifold admit a flat connection?

Let $M$ be a smooth manifold, and let $TM$ denote its tangent bundle. Under what conditions does $TM$ admit a flat connection $\omega$? Edit: Formerly, I asked about a flat connection on the frame ...
23
votes
3answers
3k views

Trapped rays bouncing between two convex bodies

At some point during my research I was confronted with this problem, but I did not dedicate serious time to it. Anyway it stayed in the back of my mind and I'm still interested in hints for it. ...
16
votes
5answers
3k views

Maps inducing zero on homotopy groups but are not null-homotopic

Today my fellow grad student asked me a question, given a map f from X to Y, assume $f_*(\pi_i(X))=0$ in Y, when is f null-homotopic? I search the literature a little bit, D.W.Kahn http://...
15
votes
1answer
3k views

Derivative of Exponential Map

Given a Riemannian manifold $M$, let $\gamma: (a,b) \to M$ be a geodesic and $E$ a parallel vector field along $\gamma$. Define $\varphi: (a,b) \to M$ by $t \mapsto \exp_{\gamma(t)}(E(t))$. Is there a ...
29
votes
5answers
1k views

Surfaces filled densely by a geodesic

Which smooth, closed surfaces $S \subset \mathbb{R}^3$ have no single geodesic $\gamma$ that fills $S$ densely? Say a geodesic $\gamma$ "fills $S$ densely" if the closure of the set of points ...
28
votes
1answer
2k views

Strong Whitney embedding theorem for non-compact manifolds

$\newcommand{\RR}{\mathbb{R}}$The present question arises from some confusion on my part regarding the precise statement of the strong Whitney embedding theorem for non-compact manifolds. The strong ...
22
votes
0answers
498 views

Finding the octonionic analog of the K3 surface, via (almost) hyperkahler geometry?

The K3 manifold is an amazing object in mathematics which plays an important role in several fields ranging from the study of smooth 4-manifolds to algebraic geometry to differential geometry and ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

Curvature of a Lie group

Since a lie group is a manifold with the structure of a continuous group, then each point of the manifold [Edit: provided we fix a metric, for example an invariant or bi-invariant one] has some scalar ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Probing a manifold with geodesics

Supposed you stand at a point $p \in M$ on a smooth 2-manifold $M$ embedded in $\mathbb{R}^3$. You do not know anything about $M$. You shoot off a geodesic $\gamma$ in some direction $u$, and learn ...
20
votes
5answers
1k views

Can one recover a metric from geodesics?

Assume there are two Riemannian metrics on a manifold ( open or closed) with the same set of all geodesics. Are they proportional by a constant? If not in general, what are the affirmative results in ...
14
votes
3answers
948 views

Is it true that all sphere bundles are boundaries of disk bundles?

Let $E$ be the total space of the sphere bundle $S^k\to E\to M$, is it true that there exists a disk bundle $D^{k+1}\to N\to M$ such that $E=\partial N$? (where $D^{k+1}$ is the unit disk in $\mathbb ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

About MF Atiyah and R Bott's 1983 paper

I am a theoretical physics major student working on string theory. I want to understand the work of MF Atiyah and R Bott, "The Yang-Mills equations over riemann surfaces" . What kinds of mathematical ...
28
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the best way to peel fruit?

A mango made me wonder about this. (See also this question, which is in a similar spirit.) Fix $L >0$ and a smooth body (possibly nonconvex—pears or bananas are fair game!) $B \subset \mathbb{R}^3$...
4
votes
1answer
581 views

Curvature as metric invariant

This is quite well-known: the ONLY metric invariants are curvature, its higher derivatives, and any possible contractions between them. The meaning of an invariant is, to put it simply, a tensor ...
17
votes
4answers
627 views

Is the space of immersions of $S^n$ into $\mathbb R^{n+1}$ simply connected?

The title is the question. Sorry, this isn't quite research level. I imagine the answer is well-known, just not to me. Thanks for any help!
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Nonnegative to Positive Curvature.

This questions asks for your intuition and insight as I'm surprised by how little is known about the difference between nonnegative and positive curvature. I don't want to be completely vague, so I ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Poincare lemma for non-smooth differentiable forms

The Poincare lemma is almost always formulated for differential forms with smooth coefficients (or sometimes for currents that have distributional coefficients). I would like to have it for $C^k$-...
9
votes
0answers
414 views

What is a good introduction to cluster algebras from surfaces?

What is a good reference for cluster algebras from surfaces, with a view to their connection to Teichmuller theory? In my view, that means it should start off with unpunctured surfaces (and in fact,...
4
votes
2answers
620 views

A Converse to the Gauss Bonnet Theorem

Let $S$ be a compact surface in $\mathbb{R}^{3}$ with the gauss normal map $N:S\to \mathbb{S}^{2}$. Assme that $\phi;\mathbb{S}^{2}\to S$ is a diffeomorphism. Put $F=N\circ \phi$ and represent $F:\...
12
votes
2answers
523 views

Is a smooth closed surface in Euclidean 3-space rigid?

Classical theorem of Cohn-Vossen: A closed convex surface in Euclidean 3-space cannot be deformed isometrically. Robert Connelly found an example of a polyhedral surface that can be deformed ...
11
votes
3answers
779 views

How to draw a Zoll surface?

I take into account that lots of questions on Zoll surfaces have already been asked on the forum. But I will stubbornly continue asking. Are there any chances to draw explicitely at least one Zoll ...
7
votes
2answers
470 views

Willmore minimizers for genus $\geq 2$

For an immersed closed surface $f: \Sigma \rightarrow \mathbb R^3$ the Willmore functional is defined as $$ \cal W(f) = \int _{\Sigma} \frac{1}{4} |\vec H|^2 d \mu_g, $$ where $\vec H$ is the mean ...
17
votes
3answers
887 views

Non-stably trivial bundle with trivial characteristic classes

Though it's relatively clear that the characteristic classes do not characterise a vector bundle (and after looking through some books) I could not find an example of a vector bundle which is not ...
9
votes
2answers
401 views

Surface in 3D that realizes all pairs of principal curvatures

This is a question that Willie Wong raised in comments after he answered my question, Surface analog of clothoid: curvatures covering $\mathbb{R}^3$. Willie's question is more interesting (and ...
8
votes
2answers
683 views

What is the obstruction to the existence of a global Kahler potential?

It is a well-know fact that if $(X,\omega)$ is Kahler then about every point $x \in X$ there exists a neighbourhood $U$ and a function $K \in C^{\infty}(U,\mathbb{R})$ such that $\omega|_U = i\partial ...