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

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34
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
23
votes
10answers
2k 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 ...
86
votes
16answers
11k 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 ...
42
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 ...
37
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
602 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
471 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
548 views

Is it possible to define a structure of differentiable manifold on the Hilbert cube $[0,1]^\mathbb{N}$?

Is it possible to define a structure of differentiable (smooth) manifold on the Hilbert cube $[0,1]^\mathbb{N}$ ? Has it been done in the literature? In textbooks, only the Banach case is treated, ...
107
votes
16answers
15k 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 ...
52
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
28
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
10
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 ...
8
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
950 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 : ...
23
votes
3answers
2k 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. ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

Intuition behind the ricci flow

I hope you don't shoot me for this question. I try to understand among other things the Ricci flow. However I have no idea of the intuition behind the definition. So my questions is: What is the ...
11
votes
3answers
651 views

Characterizing Hessians among symmetric bilinear tensors

I apologize in advance if this is somewhat elementary, but: Let $(M,g)$ be a compact Riemannian manifold. Is there a "characterization" of which symmetric bilinear tensors $B\in Sym^2(M)$ are ...
12
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
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 ...
24
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
25
votes
4answers
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 ...
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 ...
11
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
28
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
19
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 ...
12
votes
3answers
925 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 $\textrm{Diff}(M)$ ...
14
votes
3answers
913 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
616 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
365 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
165 views

Equivalence of the construction of the Lagrangian in a book of Sternberg to the “usual” construction

I have a question regarding the following cited text from [1]: Let $F$ be a representation of the structure group $G$ of the principal bundle $P_G\to M$ (a (semi-)Riemannian manifold), and let ...
4
votes
0answers
237 views

Symmetric matrices and Hilbert's fourth problem

From the analytic viewpoint, the Busemann-Pogorelov solution of Hilbert's fourth problem is summarized in the following result: Theorem. All straight lines are extremals of the variational problem $$ ...
2
votes
3answers
384 views

Classification of $SU(2)$ principal fibre bundles over four-dimensional manifolds

I would like to find a pedagogical reference where the classification, up to isomorphism, of principal $SU(2)$ bundles over a four-dimensional compact, oriented manifold is explained. In particular I ...
3
votes
1answer
235 views

Explicit form for hermitian structure $h$ with respect to $\omega$

Let $(M,\omega)$ be a symplectic manifold. and $\pi:L\to M$ be a complex line bundle , we denote $h$ as hermitian structure,i.e. if $s,s'$ are smooth sections of $L$ and if $X$ is a vector field on ...
3
votes
1answer
308 views

Existence and Properties of 3D Curves with unusual 2D $(\kappa(s),\tau(s))$ Trajectories

This question is inspired by Surface in 3D that realizes all pairs of principal curvatures While one can imagine, that a 3D surface could exist, that realizes all pairs of principal curvatures, ...
3
votes
0answers
483 views

The Stiefel-Whitney and Pontryagin classes of SO(3)-bundles

Consider $SO(n)$ bundles over smooth manifolds. Then using the fact that the Stiefel-Whitney classes are the modulo 2 reductions of the Chern classes, one can prove $w_{2i}^2(E) = p_i(E) \bmod 2$. Now ...
2
votes
1answer
145 views

Inverse Problem for Pullback

Let $M$ and $N$ be smooth manifolds and $T: M \to N$ be a smooth map. Let $ \mathcal{F}(M,\mathbb{R})$ (resp.$ \mathcal{F}(N,\mathbb{R})$) denote the space of smooth functions from $M$ (resp. $N$) ...
1
vote
1answer
306 views

Projectively equivalent connections

We can define projective structure on a manifold in two ways. First we can define it as a maximal atlas of charts from the open subsets of manifold to the projective space , such that transitions maps ...
1
vote
1answer
300 views

Symmetry on a sphere

Let $u$ be a smooth function on the sphere $S^2$. Suppose there exists $C>0$ such that for all $R \in SO(3)$, the area of every connected component of $\{x\in S^2: u(x)> u(Rx)\}$ is at least ...
1
vote
2answers
470 views

Isometric embeddings of metric spaces in Hilbert spaces

There are plenty of isometric embeddings of metric spaces in Banach spaces. Nevertheless, I have been unable to find any significant result on isometric embeddings into Hilbert spaces. My question is: ...
1
vote
1answer
310 views

Decomposition of hermitian form used in the definition of Griffiths/Nakano positivity

Let $E$ be a hermitian holomorphic vector bundle over a complex manifold $X$. Then $\Theta(E)$, the curvature of $E$, is a section of $\bigwedge^{1,1}X\otimes\operatorname{End}(E)$. However, we have ...
65
votes
17answers
9k views

Are there examples of non-orientable manifolds in nature?

Whilst browsing through Marcel Berger's book "A Panoramic View of Riemannian Geometry" and thinking about the Klein bottle, I came across the sentence: "The unorientable surfaces are never discussed ...
61
votes
5answers
4k views

Is there a sheaf theoretical characterization of a differentiable manifold?

I'm going through the crisis of being unhappy with the textbook definition of a differentiable manifold. I'm wondering whether there is a sheaf-theoretic approach which will make me happier. In a ...
59
votes
11answers
14k views

why study Lie algebras?

I don't mean to be rude asking this question, I know that the theory of Lie groups and Lie algebras is a very deep one, very aesthetic and that has broad applications in various areas of mathematics ...
56
votes
16answers
5k views

What makes four dimensions special?

Do you know properties which distinguish four-dimensional spaces among the others? What makes four-dimensional topological manifolds special? What makes four-dimensional differentiable manifolds ...
61
votes
6answers
6k 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 ...
22
votes
14answers
22k views

Reading list for basic differential geometry?

I'd like to ask if people can point me towards good books or notes to learn some basic differential geometry. I work in representation theory mostly and have found that sometimes my background is ...
43
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 ...
33
votes
5answers
4k views

Kahler differentials and Ordinary Differentials

What's the relationship between Kahler differentials and ordinary differential forms?
65
votes
11answers
9k views

Is it possible to capture a sphere in a knot?

You and I decide to play a game: To start off with, I provide you with a frictionless, perfectly spherical sphere, along with a frictionless, unstretchable, infinitely thin magical rope. This rope ...