Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 174 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

Questions tagged [dg.differential-geometry]

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

152
votes
21answers
23k 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&...
150
votes
17answers
25k 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 ...
115
votes
17answers
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 ...
110
votes
7answers
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 ...
107
votes
18answers
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 ...
103
votes
9answers
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 ...
98
votes
14answers
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 ...
89
votes
8answers
11k 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 ...
87
votes
5answers
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 ...
83
votes
11answers
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 ...
83
votes
5answers
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 ...
74
votes
6answers
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 ...
67
votes
10answers
22k 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 ...
67
votes
2answers
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, ...
66
votes
4answers
4k views

Parallelizability of the Milnor's exotic spheres in dimension 7

Are the Milnor's seven dimensional exotic spheres parallelizable?
66
votes
1answer
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 ...
63
votes
2answers
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, ...
63
votes
0answers
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, ...
60
votes
9answers
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 ...
58
votes
7answers
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
2answers
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
20answers
19k views

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 ...
57
votes
18answers
63k 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 ...
56
votes
7answers
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 ...
56
votes
9answers
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 ...
56
votes
1answer
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 ...
54
votes
12answers
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 ...
53
votes
4answers
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 ...
53
votes
5answers
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 ...
52
votes
3answers
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 ...
52
votes
5answers
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 ...
52
votes
6answers
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 ...
52
votes
3answers
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 ...
51
votes
11answers
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 ...
51
votes
6answers
6k views

Kahler differentials and Ordinary Differentials

What's the relationship between Kahler differentials and ordinary differential forms?
51
votes
1answer
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
3answers
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
0answers
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
0answers
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
3answers
5k 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
10answers
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
6answers
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
0answers
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
5answers
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
10answers
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
1answer
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 ...
43
votes
7answers
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 ...
43
votes
3answers
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
2answers
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
7answers
8k views

Down-To-Earth Uses of de Rham Cohomology to Convince a Wide Audience of its Usefulness

I'm soon giving an introductory talk on de Rham cohomology to a wide postgraduate audience. I'm hoping to get to arrive at the idea of de Rham cohomology for a smooth manifold, building up from vector ...