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Here is a brief answer: Lie groups is provide a way to express the concept of a continuous family of symmetries for geometric objects. Most, if not all, of differential geometry centers around this. By differentiating the Lie group action, you get a Lie algebra action, which is a linearization of the group action. As a linear object, a Lie algebra is often a lot easier to work with than working directly with the corresponding Lie group.

Whenever you do different kinds of differential geometry (Riemannian, Kahler, symplectic, etc.), there is always a Lie group and algebra lurking around either explicitly or implicitly.

It is possible to learn each particular specific geometry and work with the specific Lie group and algebra without learning anything about the general theory. However, it can be extremely useful to know the general theory and find common techniques that apply to different types of geometric structures.

Moreover, the general theory of Lie groups and algebras leads to a rich assortment of important explicit examples of geometric objects.

I consider Lie groups and algebras to be near or at the center of the mathematical universe and among the most important and useful mathematical objects I know. As far as I can tell, they play central roles in most other fields of mathematics and not just differential geometry.

ADDED: I have to say that I understand why this question needed to be asked. I don't think we introduce Lie groups and algebras properly to our students. They are missing from most if not all of the basic courses. Except for the orthogonal and possibly the unitary group, they are not mentioned much in differential geometry courses. They are too often introduced to students in a separate Lie group and algebra course, where everything is discussed too abstractly and too isolated from other subjects for my taste.

2 added 519 characters in body

Here is a brief answer: Lie groups is a way to express the concept of a continuous family of symmetries for geometric objects. Most, if not all, of differential geometry centers around this. By differentiating the Lie group action, you get a Lie algebra action, which is a linearization of the group action. As a linear object, a Lie algebra is often a lot easier to work with than working directly with the corresponding Lie group.

Whenever you do different kinds of differential geometry (Riemannian, Kahler, symplectic, etc.), there is always a Lie group and algebra lurking around either explicitly or implicitly.

It is possible to learn each particular specific geometry and work with the specific Lie group and algebra without learning anything about the general theory. However, it can be extremely useful to know the general theory and find common techniques that apply to different types of geometric structures.

Moreover, the general theory of Lie groups and algebras leads to a rich assortment of important explicit examples of geometric objects.

I consider Lie groups and algebras to be near or at the center of the mathematical universe and among the most important and useful mathematical objects I know. As far as I can tell, they play central roles in most other fields of mathematics and not just differential geometry.

ADDED: I have to say that I understand why this question needed to be asked. I don't think we introduce Lie groups and algebras properly to our students. They are missing from most if not all of the basic courses. Except for the orthogonal and possibly the unitary group, they are not mentioned much in differential geometry courses. They are too often introduced to students in a separate Lie group and algebra course, where everything is discussed too abstractly and too isolated from other subjects for my taste.

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Here is a brief answer: Lie groups is a way to express the concept of a continuous family of symmetries for geometric objects. Most, if not all, of differential geometry centers around this. By differentiating the Lie group action, you get a Lie algebra action, which is a linearization of the group action. As a linear object, a Lie algebra is often a lot easier to work with than working directly with the corresponding Lie group.

Whenever you do different kinds of differential geometry (Riemannian, Kahler, symplectic, etc.), there is always a Lie group and algebra lurking around either explicitly or implicitly.

It is possible to learn each particular specific geometry and work with the specific Lie group and algebra without learning anything about the general theory. However, it can be extremely useful to know the general theory and find common techniques that apply to different types of geometric structures.

Moreover, the general theory of Lie groups and algebras leads to a rich assortment of important explicit examples of geometric objects.

I consider Lie groups and algebras to be near or at the center of the mathematical universe and among the most important and useful mathematical objects I know. As far as I can tell, they play central roles in most other fields of mathematics and not just differential geometry.