A Hadamard manifold $M$ (complete, simply connected, non-positive sectional curvature) has a so-called boundary at infinity $\partial M$ whose elements are equivalence classes of unit-speed geodesic rays that are asymptotic i.e. two unit-speed geodesic rays $\gamma_1,\gamma_2:[0,\infty)\rightarrow 0$ are members of the same element of $\partial M$ iff $d(\gamma_1(t),\gamma_2(t))$ is bounded on the domain. For each $p\in M$ and $u\in \partial M$, there exists a unique element of $u$ associated with $p$ i.e. a unique unit geodesic ray $\gamma_p$ satisfying $\gamma_p(0)=p$ and $\gamma_p\in u$. Define a vector field $M\rightarrow TM$ by $p\rightarrow (p,\gamma_p'(0))$; that is, $p$ is mapped to the initial velocity of the element of $u$ associated with $p$. Is this vector field smooth?

I feel like this should be a known result but cannot find it in the literature. Any references would be appreciated.

  • $\begingroup$ It is known to be $C^1$-smooth. It fails to be $C^2$ in general. $\endgroup$ Sep 12 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ @MoisheKohan Thank you. Are there any more details you could provide? I am specifically interested in conditions under which it is once or twice continuously differentiable, but even just a reference would be a big help. $\endgroup$
    – Shin HY
    Sep 12 at 1:44

1 Answer 1


This vector field is the negative of the gradient vector field of the/a Busemann function $b_u$ associated with $u$. (Below, I am assuming that the Riemannian metric is $C^\infty$.) The function is known to be $C^2$ for Hadamard manifolds but not $C^3$ (even for general Hadamard surfaces). See:

Heintze, Ernst; Im Hof, Hans-Christoph, Geometry of horospheres, J. Differ. Geom. 12, 481-491 (1977). ZBL0434.53038.


Ballmann, W.; Brin, M.; Burns, K., On the differentiability of horocycles and horocycle foliations, J. Differ. Geom. 26, 337-347 (1987). ZBL0609.53012.

From this, one sees that the vector field is $C^1$ but not, in general, $C^2$-smooth.

Ideally, these results belong to a textbook on Hadamard manifolds (that would summarize remarkable developments in the subject in 1970s and 1980s). Alas, such a book was never written, even though there was a couple of related books on general metric spaces of nonpositive curvature (Ballmann and Bridson-Haefliger) and several survey papers (as well as Eberlein's book and Gromov-Ballmann-Schroeder's book). But these were "close misses."


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