# Questions tagged [dg.differential-geometry]

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

**155**

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**21**answers

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### 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&...

**151**

votes

**17**answers

26k 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 ...

**117**

votes

**17**answers

14k 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 ...

**111**

votes

**7**answers

12k views

### Topology and the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics

I was very happy to learn that the work which led to the award of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics (shared between David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz) uses Topology. In ...

**109**

votes

**19**answers

16k 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 ...

**105**

votes

**9**answers

12k 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 ...

**99**

votes

**14**answers

29k 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 ...

**90**

votes

**8**answers

12k views

### What do heat kernels have to do with the Riemann-Roch theorem and the Gauss-Bonnet theorem?

I know the following facts. (Don't assume I know much more than the following facts.)
The Atiyah-Singer index theorem generalizes both the Riemann-Roch theorem and the Gauss-Bonnet theorem.
The ...

**88**

votes

**5**answers

11k views

### When can a Connection Induce a Riemannian Metric for which it is the Levi-Civita Connection?

As we all know, for a Riemannian manifold $(M,g)$, there exists a unique torsion free connection $\nabla_g$, the Levi-Civita connection, that is compatible witht metric.
I was wondering if one can ...

**85**

votes

**5**answers

8k 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 ...

**83**

votes

**11**answers

11k 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 ...

**75**

votes

**6**answers

7k 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 ...

**68**

votes

**10**answers

23k views

### Is there a complex structure on the 6-sphere?

I don't know who first asked this question, but it's a question that I think many differential and complex geometers have tried to answer because it sounds so simple and fundamental. There are even a ...

**68**

votes

**2**answers

7k views

### Complex structure on $S^6$ gets published in Journ. Math. Phys

A paper by Gabor Etesi was published that purports to solve a major outstanding problem:
Complex structure on the six dimensional sphere from a spontaneous symmetry breaking
Journ. Math. Phys. 56, ...

**68**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### Does $\Bbb{CP}^{2n} \# \Bbb{CP}^{2n}$ ever support an almost complex structure?

This question has been crossposted from Math.SE in the hopes that it reaches a larger audience here.
$\Bbb{CP}^{2n+1} \# \Bbb{CP}^{2n+1}$ supports a complex structure: $\Bbb{CP}^{2n+1}$ has an ...

**66**

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**4**answers

4k views

### Parallelizability of the Milnor's exotic spheres in dimension 7

Are the Milnor's seven dimensional exotic spheres parallelizable?

**65**

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**0**answers

2k views

### Converse to Euclid's fifth postulate

There is a fascinating open problem in Riemannian Geometry which I would like to advertise here because I do not think that it is as well-known as it deserves to be. Euclid's famous fifth postulate, ...

**63**

votes

**2**answers

4k views

### Group cohomology and condensed matter

I am mystified by formulas that I find in the condensed matter literature
(see Symmetry protected topological orders and the group cohomology of their symmetry group arXiv:1106.4772v6 (pdf) by Chen, ...

**60**

votes

**9**answers

7k 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 ...

**59**

votes

**7**answers

11k 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....

**58**

votes

**20**answers

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### How should one present curl and divergence in an undergraduate multivariable calculus class?

I am a TA for a multivariable calculus class this semester. I have also TA'd this course a few times in the past. Every time I teach this course, I am never quite sure how I should present curl and ...

**58**

votes

**18**answers

64k 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 ...

**58**

votes

**2**answers

6k 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 ...

**57**

votes

**9**answers

21k views

### What is the exterior derivative intuitively?

Actually I have several related questions, not worth opening different threads:
What is the exterior derivative intuitively? What is its geometric meaning?
A possible answer I know is, that it is ...

**57**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### Stiefel–Whitney classes in the spirit of Chern-Weil

Chern-Weil theory gives characteristic classes (e.g. Chern class, Euler class, Pontryagin) of a vector bundle in terms of polynomials in the curvature form of an arbitrary connection. There seems to ...

**56**

votes

**7**answers

5k views

### Example of a manifold which is not a homogeneous space of any Lie group

Every manifold that I ever met in a differential geometry class was a homogeneous space: spheres, tori, Grassmannians, flag manifolds, Stiefel manifolds, etc. What is an example of a connected smooth ...

**55**

votes

**4**answers

7k 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 ...

**54**

votes

**12**answers

10k views

### How much of differential geometry can be developed entirely without atlases? [closed]

We may define a topological manifold to be a second-countable Hausdorff space such that every point has an open neighborhood homeomorphic to an open subset of $\mathbb{R}^n$. We can further define a ...

**54**

votes

**3**answers

7k 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 ...

**53**

votes

**5**answers

7k 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 ...

**53**

votes

**5**answers

3k views

### Random manifolds

In the world of real algebraic geometry there are natural probabilistic questions one can ask: you can make sense of a random hypersurface of degree d in some projective space and ask about its ...

**53**

votes

**3**answers

3k views

### Atiyah-Singer theorem-a big picture

So far I made several attempts to really learn Atiyah-Singer theorem. In order
to really understand this result a rather broad background is required: you need
to know analysis (pseudodifferential ...

**52**

votes

**11**answers

7k views

### Why is the exterior algebra so ubiquitous?

The exterior algebra of a vector space V seems to appear all over the place, such as in
the definition of the cross product and determinant,
the description of the Grassmannian as a variety,
the ...

**52**

votes

**6**answers

6k views

### Kahler differentials and Ordinary Differentials

What's the relationship between Kahler differentials and ordinary differential forms?

**52**

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**6**answers

6k views

### Maryam Mirzakhani's works

Maryam Mirzakhani has made several contributions to the theory of moduli spaces of Riemann surfaces.
Mirzakhani was awarded the Fields Medal in 2014 for "her outstanding contributions to the dynamics ...

**51**

votes

**1**answer

4k views

### What were the main ideas and gaps in Yoichi Miyaoka's attempted proof (1988) of Fermat's Last Theorem?

Out of sheer curiosity I have been reading Stewert and Tall's "Algebraic Number Theory and Fermat's Last Theorem" (2001). As it contains various bits of history, I found out to my own shame that I was ...

**50**

votes

**3**answers

3k views

### Operations via Morse Theory

I am interested in seeing if and how Morse Theory can "do everything". Some core things are handle decomposition, Bott periodicity, and Euler characteristic. But what do the normal (co)homology ...

**48**

votes

**0**answers

1k views

### Are there periodicity phenomena in manifold topology with odd period?

The study of $n$-manifolds has some well-known periodicities in $n$ with period a power of $2$:
$n \bmod 2$ is important. Poincaré duality implies that odd-dimensional compact oriented manifolds ...

**47**

votes

**0**answers

12k views

### Atiyah's May 2018 paper on the 6-sphere

A couple years ago Atiyah published a claimed proof that $S^6$ has no complex structure. I've heard murmurs and rumors that there are problems with the argument, but just a couple months ago he ...

**46**

votes

**3**answers

6k views

### What is a foliation and why should I care?

The title says everything but while it is a little bit provocative let me elaborate a bit about my question. First time when I met the foliation it was just an isolated example in the differential ...

**45**

votes

**10**answers

7k views

### de Rham cohomology and flat vector bundles

I was wondering whether there is some notion of "vector bundle de Rham cohomology".
To be more precise: the k-th de Rham cohomology group of a manifold $H_{dR}^{k}(M)$ is defined as the set of closed ...

**45**

votes

**6**answers

6k views

### Synthetic vs. classical differential geometry

To provide context, I'm a differential geometry grad student from a physics background. I know some category theory (at the level of Simmons) and differential and Riemannian geometry (at the level of ...

**45**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### A dictionary of Characteristic classes and obstructions

I apologize in advance as this is not a research level question but rather one which could benefit from expert attention but is potentially useful mainly to novice mathematicians.
In an effort to ...

**45**

votes

**0**answers

10k views

### Atiyah's paper on complex structures on $S^6$

M. Atiyah has posted a preprint on arXiv on the non-existence of complex structure on the sphere $S^6$.
https://arxiv.org/abs/1610.09366
It relies on the topological $K$-theory $KR$ and in ...

**44**

votes

**7**answers

9k views

### Why are there so many smooth functions?

I do understand that my question might seem a little bit ignorant, but I thought about it a lot and still can't wrap my head around it.
Analycity imposes very strong conditions on a map, from ...

**44**

votes

**5**answers

4k views

### Beautiful descriptions of exceptional groups

I'm curious about the beautiful descriptions of exceptional simple complex Lie groups and algebras (and maybe their compact forms). By beautiful I mean: simple (not complicated - it means that we need ...

**44**

votes

**10**answers

7k views

### Possibility of an Elementary Differential Geometry Course

I have to admit I'm not sure if this is an appropriate question. It's related to research in math education, but not directly to math.
I've found that in talking to professional physicists and ...

**44**

votes

**3**answers

3k views

### Explicit metrics

Every surface admits metrics of constant curvature, but there is usually a disconnect between
these metrics, the shapes of ordinary objects, and typical mathematical drawings of surfaces.
Can ...

**43**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### What results are immediately generalised to higher dimensions, in light of Schoen and Yau's recent preprint?

Many problems in geometric analysis and general relativity have been established in dimensions $3\leq n\leq 7$, as the regularity theory for minimal hypersurfaces holds up to dimension 7*. In a recent ...

**42**

votes

**13**answers

7k views

### Motivating the de Rham theorem

In grad school I learned the isomorphism between de Rham cohomology and singular cohomology from a course that used Warner's book Foundations of Differentiable Manifolds and Lie Groups. One thing ...